Monday, September 1, 2014

cats whacked on catnip....and canning some tomatoes!

it was a beautiful sunset the other night....


in fact, all the sunsets are beautiful here. but this time of year they seem especially beautiful.

here's some more lemon balm that i am drying for tea for over the winter.



we use it fresh for teas and lemonades, but i also dry it to have delicious teas for the winter.

here's some delcious mung bean sprouts. we try to have fresh sprouts on hand at all times. we use them in salads, soups and stews - but mostly we just eat them as a fresh handful right out of the fridge - bahahahah!



we are still experiencing gorgeous weather.



i harvested some catnip seeds for the winter. some seeds i re-planted for plants to give leaves to the cats. some i planted for dehydrating to make catnip tea for us over the winter. catnip tea is very relaxing and along with sage and lavender tea, one cup right before bedtime can calm you and put you to sleep.



however, i made the mistake of harvesting the catnip seeds, and not thinking, with the smell of catnip all over my hands, when i pet little Frankie Blue Eyes - he went berserk. so i had to give him a couple of leaves on a stalk.




yes all of our cats are allowed on the table! here is Frankie-Mankly chewing on his catnip. fresh is best for cats, but we dry some for the winter months for them. cats love catnip!

here is Frankie after his fresh catnip contemplating life's unending mysteries.



he then went off to pass out under truckdura, vandura or in the grass or wherever he goes when he is whacked on the catnip.

here are the other 2 cats after their fresh nip - lying together on the table (i told you we let the cats on the table!)



aren't they cute? little brothers laying on the table together. (and believe me when i say that i wash that table with hot soapy water 265,347,155 times a day!)

next up - is our tomatoe harvest so far.


i plant a few varieties of tomatoes, but all are indeterminate, heirloom and organic. indeterminate means that they don't flower or set fruit all at the same time. which i find is easier for us to handle. the tomatoes above are the ones that we haven't been eating for the last 3 weeks.

when i can my tomatoes, i don't remove the skins unless i have a real glut of them. i also mix all of my tomatoes to make a very plain sauce with just some salt added.

here they all are ready to make some sauce - yummeh baby!



always boil your jars and lids according to proper instruction.



fill your jars and can 'em. that's 6 pints of tomatoe sauce right there.



some people get fancy with their canned tomatoes and add all kinds of stuff. we like ours to be canned plain and then when we use a jar, we can add whatever we want. i also make my sauce chunky so that we can have a chunky sauce for when we want chunky, or we can puree a jar if we want less chunky - know what i mean?

shoot! how could i end a post without a food pic? i just couldn't.


that's MY version of a sloppy joe sandwich. mine includes mushrooms, kidney beans, hamburger and home-made tomatoe sauce. with 3 million pounds of garlic, a nice-sized pinch of turmeric, cayenne and cumin. that's love on a plate right there, baby!

we are wishing you all of the best!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

a couple of nice days



it has been a beautiful couple of days even though we are all still reeling from the loss of SciFiChick. my friend Harry Flashman just received a set of books from her that he won during one of her give-aways. he says here that if feels kind of strange and i am sure that it does. but i am also sure that Sci would have wanted him to enjoy those books.

our Sweet Sandy made contact with Sci's husband, Mars, and he left a beautiful message to all of us about how much the blogging community and friends of Sci's from the internet meant to her. you can read his message here on Sweet Sandy's blog.

my friend Phelan left a comment on one of our blogs (?) saying that Sci would not want us all blubbering and would be yelling for us to get back out in the garden. she's right.

for us at The Manor it has been several wonderful days gardening, getting the fall garden in, getting the harvest in, harvesting some seed and berries. imagine - we have wild raspberries and wild blackberries growing all over our land?!?!?? the next 2 weeks are perfect for picking them and that is what we have been doing for a few hours each day. here is one small picking - we put them on the tray to let any little bugs get away before rinsing them and bagging them.



we've only been picking a few days now, the wild raspberries are really tiny but man are they sweet. the blackberries are to die for.

here's our haul so far: (minus the bucketfulls we have been eating while picking and telling each other we are not eating bucketfulls each - bahahahahah!)



by the time we are done both of those bags will be filled to the brim and made into many fine and delicious things! and now remember - these berries just grow here. we don't tend to them, we don't baby them, we don't do anything to them. we just forage. we like that!

speaking of fine and delicious things, it was my friend Sweet Sandy who taught us about taking the bottoms of celery, rooting them in water and then re-planting them. we don't have access to any local, organic celery but at this time of year we get beautiful green onions, locally, and still with all of the roots attached.



i cut off the bottoms leaving the roots intact, soak them in water for a few days, stick them in pots and blammo! delicious, local, organic green onions for months.


you just keep clipping them and they keep coming back!

in other local news - it's corn season baby. corn and strawberry season.


that's local organic corn and strawberries right there. in our nearest little town, you can't drive 5 ft without hitting a truck selling corn or strawberries. we have a ton of corn that we cooked, cobbed and froze. so far this winter, we'll be eating a ton of peas, a ton of beans, a ton of pickled radish, a ton of squash puree, and a bunch of frozen berries - woohoo! and we haven't even hit the glut of our harvest time yet - it's pretty awesome!

want more awesomeness? how about 10 and a half litres of home-made bone and veg stock? yummeh!


here's some seeds that we harvested today for our garden next year. on the left is viceroy spinach seeds that we will plant immediately to get a fall harvest of. some shelling peas. and more nappa cabbage seeds than i know what to do with!!!! does anyone need nappa cabbage seeds?


finally some proper korean bbq steak (bulgogi) done on the bbq with extra sauce made on the stove. jambaloney's awesome almond rice, some sauteed green beans and some cabbage kimchi which i swear is the best kimchi ever.

in closing, i would like to thank you all for your outpouring of comments and support on our blog, and on several other friends blogs due to our loss of our very good friend SciFiChick. it has really meant a lot to me and posting tributes to her below helped me work through my grief. having my friends Phelan and Sweet Sandy only a phone call away made all the difference. hearing from my friends Felinae, Herbalpagan and mmpaints - a group that we call the "core crew" made it all that much easier. thank you all again.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

SciFiChick's Greatest Hits!

as we all know - SciFiChick pretty much excelled at everything! when she put her mind to it, she would stop at nothing and let no obstacle keep her from attaining her goal. but she had her fair share of mishaps, as we all do, and she never pretended to be perfect.

a lot of you have been following her blog for years and will have already read the posts that i am listing in this post. but it was great fun to go back through her blog and find some of her best successes and sad, dismal failures. one thing about Sci - when she was on, she was ON. but when she was off - bahahhahahah! she was always the first one to make fun of herself when she was off. i think that she will enjoy this post and i hope that you all do, too.

please take the time to click the links. they will make you smile, make you remember something that you forgot, they will make you laugh and she would love to know that people who cared about her are re-reading some of her best posts.

first off, though, this is right from her blog, Bacon and Eggs and explains her outlook on life:

"People try to make life way more complicated than it has to be. With all that is going on around us, we need to get back to the simple life. Its a concept easily lost. Sometimes life just gets crazy. So when it does just take a step back... and breathe. Look at the beauty that is all around you. Life is a precious gift and at the end of the day... when you look at your accomplishments...you have to realize its really not all that complicated. Its just Bacon and Eggs!"

and now i present SciFiChick's greatest hits:

who could ever forget her excellent post on 114 frugal money saving ideas, found here. in every post that she ever mentioned the word "frugal", there was always a "cheap" with a line through it preceding frugal. she liked the word cheap!

how about her awesome post about a one-year food supply for under $300 found here. both of these posts have been stolen on numerous occasions and re-posted on other blog sites. we all knew where the originals came from.

when she deydrated everything in her entire house, Mars not included, she got bored. and then she taught us all how to deydrate eggs, here. ya, she went there and we all learned from her!

eggs shmeggs! she was the one who taught us how to dehydrate leftover tomatoe skins too! you can find that post here.

she didn't call herself SciFiChick for fun - she was very much interested in all kinds of sci-fi stuff - including digging up the information on this blue moon!

her very first post, February 26, 2009 - here.

and the food saver video - probably the funniest thing i have ever seen! man was she ever full of information, always curious, always finding new ways to be "cheap", i mean frugal. watch Mars with the shaky camera here.

Sci was incredibly scientific-minded and always interested in discovering cures to a variety of diseases. she did contract work for the CDC and even helped them discover a brand new disease here. she also worked for the CIA and did some overseas espionage for them. no really. it's true. ask Phelan. she'll tell you all about it!

all of us were envious of her beautiful outdoor canning station. Mars is a pure genious and really demonstrated how handy he was, and how important it was for her to have a proper canning station. she loved it. we all did!

she would kill me if i did a post about her and only included her incredible successes. so let's move on to some ginormic fails, shall we?

her first Thanksgiving on her land. FAIL!

the potatoe bag experiment. FAIL!

and there are just waaaaay tooooo many posts on her raising rabbit failures. but man, there are a few of us in our core group who laugh our heads off - how can you not get rabbits to breed? - bahahahahahahaah! we laughed with her and at her. but she never gave up and i am glad to say that she finally succeeded in getting the rabbits to breed this year!

many of us bloggers get overwhelmed with our gardens and Sci was never afraid to share when she felt overwhelmed....probably because of all of her danged lists!

this post, about more lists, is especially comforting to me. she writes about when we first met.

how can you do a post about Sci and not include one of her famous political rants? you can't. here's one of her examples here.

she had a very big heart and loved life and her friends so much. she was always there if you needed her. her "maybe" post was beautiful. a friend sent her the "maybe" post and she wanted everyone to read it. she was so caring. you can read that beautiful post here.

we were all so grateful that she, and her precious dog, were unhurt when she totaled her vehicle. Mars had taken a look at it and figured it was going to need a lot of work to get it running again. she was terrified, as living on a fixed income and having only a small savings, she didn't know how they could get another vehicle. well that's when we put out the call to all of you - and you guys were amazing! Sci couldn't believe that in only a few days, they were able to get a replacement vehicle. it was a little piece of crap, mind you, but she was so overwhelmed and full of gratitude!!!!!

some of her friends called her a spitfire - and THAT she was. she did amazing things for the homesteading/prepper community and she was always there to help. she wanted to help as many people as possible. THAT she did in spades!

please see my previous tribute posts to her below, and please see Phelan's beautiful tribute as well. and make sure to stop in to Sweet Sandy's beautiful tribute. both Sweet Sandy and Phelan actually got to meet Sci and i have 2 beautiful pictures of the three of them, which i cannot share, because Sci would come down from heaven and belt me in the head with an unripe tomatoe!!!! 

she will be sadly missed by her closest friends. and sadly missed by the blogging world. but she set an example for the rest of us to follow - she set the standard.

we love you Sci!

Monday, August 25, 2014

a ritual for my friend...who loved our river!

my dear friend passed a few days ago. read the previous posts for more details. but as i knew i couldn't attend a wake or funeral or anything like that....and because she always told me how much she loved our river - i knew i had to do something special in remembrance of her life and all of the lives she touched. last night, jam and i prayed for her safe passage into wherever we go...and we also prayed for a river day. ask and ye shall receive. it was a perfect river day for my friend Sci!


here are some ritualistic tools to commemorate my friends passing to the other side.


that glass is no normal glass! oh no! my sister C bought me a beautiful wine glass for dances at the community hall (i am the only one who drinks wine here). i took the beautiful glass that my sister gave me to a dance and my besty c knocked it out of my hands and said glass was shattered in a million pieces! we swept it up, and the next time my sister C was up visiting - she bought me an even more beautiful glass. it is hand-painted and it says "you had me at merlot" - bahahahahahahah! i think that my friend sci would love this glass. also pictured is one of my tiny pink roma tomatoes, which sci always said she loved and a canning lid.


if you can't read what the lid says, it says "in memory of my friend SciFiChick i love you".

we took all of these things down to the river. it was a beautiful day to commemorate my friends life.


i put the tomatoe and the canning lid ( which separated in the river) to ...i don't know....baptize them in her name?


after a few minutes, i took the lids out but left the tomatoe. i have big plans for that tomatoe.


you can barely see the tomatoe close to the middle of the pic...it is heading for the opposite bank.


this is our towel tree which most of you are familiar with.


i nailed the canning lid to the towel tree.


this is our commemorative lunch to celebrate our friend.


this is me in the river, wearing the crazy silk bag on my head, giving thanks for having knowing my friend as long as i did.


it was such a blessing to have her for as long as i did. and i am very thankful. please see the tribute posts to her below...and please check back tomorrow when i do "SciFiChick's Greatest Hits" - it's gonna be awesome!

A Tribute To My Friend

i wrote out the title in capital letters and planned to write this post using capital letters where necessary. and then it occurred to me - SciFiChick would not have wanted me to change how i write my posts. she thought it was cute that jam and i never used capital letters to start sentences.

my friends, there is no easy to way to say that SciFiChick passed away this past Thursday. my dear friend Phelan got this information from Sci's daughter, who put up an update on facebook yesterday. i have no further information except for the fact that she passed from a heart attack. i stayed up most of the night trying to alert dear friends of hers, friends of hers and friends of mine who go back many, many years.

there was a core crew of us who got involved in the American Preppers Network and the Canadian Preppers Network way back when it was just a small dream. that's when i met Sci and that's when she and i had just started prepping and learning about prepping and practicing. that's when she and i did an internet canning course together and were terrified of it. she came out of it a canning Queen and went on to can everything under the sun (including accidentally canning a frog, i believe - bahahahah!)! no, that didn't happen. well, actually considering Sci, it could very well have happened. she was also the dehydrating Queen and taught many of us how to dehydrate eggs, tomatoe skins and frogs (ok - that last one i made up!)!

her blog is aptly titled "Bacon and Eggs". her philosophy was that she learned a long time ago working in a popular breakfast place that it was just bacon and eggs - how bad can you mess that up? it so applied to her approach in life and she brought joy, strength, peace, intelligence and much, much laughter to those who knew her.

she was inspired by, and enjoyed all of the best and simple things in life. when we first met and became canning buddies, we were both aspiring to get a piece of land and become homesteaders. a few years later, we got our land, and then she got hers. her land inspired her and she worked very hard on her beautiful gardens. she was always willing to provide advice to anyone who went to her with a question. she always considered herself a novice but she very quickly became an expert on so many things.

her blog is filled with excellent information - all of her tremendous successes and some spectacular failures. she was never shy about sharing the truth and she always did so, so eloquently. there are many different activities that always make me think of Sci but the one thing that happens every year that makes me tremble and pray to The Lord: "Lord, please don't let this be a SciFiChick Thanksgiving" - bahahhah! it's because her first Thanksgiving on her new land was a total bust and she wrote about it on her blog. as we celebrate both canadian and american Thanksgiving, and had missed the canadian one, our first Thanksgiving on our land was celebrated on the american date. and it was a total bust!!!! when i read Sci's post the very next day in which she shared her bust of a Thanksgiving in such a humorous way, well i just knew that i had to share ours, too.

Sci didn't care about mistakes, she just learned from them. and then shared that with anyone willing to learn.

she was an amazing person and she made everyone feel wonderful, no matter if you were down. her life has been spent helping people and spreading joy everywhere she could. she was funny as heck, dry in her humour and as sarcastic as they come.

i will end this with trying to imagine how many smiles she gave to people throughout her short-lived life. i can't even begin to fathom a number big enough.

i know that you will all be saddened by this news, i am too. i want to thank my dear friend Phelan who dropped everything when she heard the news and went speeding into town in order to call me in person in order to make sure that i heard the news from a friend. now that's a friend. Sci would have done the same for her friends.

today i am going down to the river and doing a special ritual in remembrance of Sci. she always told me how much she loved our land and river, so i am going to do this special ritual for her.

canning season is upon me and i have a heavy heart. but my good friends Phelan and Sweet Sandy told me she will be there with me and to do her proud. i promised my friends that i will do Sci proud.

tomorrow, please check back as i will have a post up called "SciFiChick's Greatest Hits". it will be awesome and i know that she will love it.

i send all of my love to all of you who truly feel the loss of our friend. i am just glad that i had her for as long as i did.

Heaven has a new angel. Goodbye SciGurl. i love you.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

impressing my friend SciFiChick...oh ya baby!

recently i was talking to my friend SciFiChick from the blog Bacon and Eggs blog - if you don't read her blog, then what can i say except that yer an idiot! so if you fall into the idiot category - git yer butt over there and read her blog!!!! she was sooo proud of the daily hauls of veg that we have been bringing in. i offer exhibit A below for your perusal:


it's a pretty nice haul no? anyway, i have more to share about my dear friend tomorrow...but if you don't already read her blog - go read it, you idiot! it's right here!

next up, something that my friend Sci would appreciate is finding a useful purpose for something. her and Mars and my jambaloney are always digging through the garbage trying to re-use and re-purpose things. or, as in this example, jambaloney trying to buy my love with a couple of beautiful dresses and a pure silk bag that the street vendor through in for free during his last trip from ottawa.


what the hell is it? i asked. he said - it's a pure silk bag. oh, ok, that explains everything. sure. what the hell am i supposed to do with it? he didn't know but assured me that it was pure silk many more times. oh ok. i can think of a million purposes. except that i can't.

and then it occurred to me the other day.

WEAR THE DAMN STUPID THING ON MY HEAD!!!!


turns out - it makes an excellent beanie-kind-of-thing for my head....who would have ever guessed??? oh my friend SciFiChick is really gonna love this one. honestly.

if any of you are out there hurting, feeling sad, feeling like they lost such a beautiful light...i am feeling it too. for those of you who don't really understand what this post is about, i will explain with a proper tribute tomorrow...after i do a celebratory ritual at the river.

much love goes out to Phelan and to Sweet Sandy. wonderful, caring friends they have proven to be.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

the tale of the horrific spider bite....and lots of harvests, food and the river's backed up!

we have been having some beautiful days this past week.



now before we begin the tale of my taking down a venomous cobra - let's go back to last wednesday, shall we? it was a beautiful river day! saw this gorgeous butterfly on the way down.



the river was backed up as it always is this time of the year!



jam had found some platforms in someone's garbage and snagged them for us!



now we have a pretty awesome set up for suntanning and swimming at river, as i am sure you will agree - bahahahaha!



we noticed a strange object out floating in the river - hmmmmm - what can it be? we were hoping for a barrel full of cash....



nope - just a junky plastic barrel full of water!




after enjoying many dips and suntanning, the sky clouded over. no worries - we had to get back to water the garden and greenhouse and get ready for our vfd meeting that evening.



this has been our daily haul for the past few weeks!



we are loading up on peas, beans, squash, zuchhini, and tiny little kymber tomatoes! (our cherry tomatoes always come in first. but we have also gotten several romas and a few regular tomatoes! we're hoping for a glut!)

here's another great haul!



and some delicious meals made with most of our produce!



a little cabrese salad.



cucumber, tomatoe, basil and feta - yummeh!



this pea and mint salad with feta is sooooo delicious! i will put the recipe on our recipe blog pronto! and my famous scalloped potatoes - when you grow your own potatoes you really notice the difference! we love potatoes!



here's some lemon balm leaves that i harvest every day, some for fresh lemonade and some to dry for delicious tea over the winter.



here's some of the fresh lemonade made with the lemon balm - deelish!



of course life would not be worth living without some delicious home-made tempura!


 anyway, let's get back to last wednesday, shall we? i know that you are all dying to hear about the spider bite which i swear was a venomous cobra! well, first off, i never felt the bite. once we got back from the river and i was taking off my flip-flops, i noticed 2 red bite marks. i immediately thought i had been bitten by a venomous cobra...except we don't have any here on the island. jam and i looked up some stuff on the internet but the puncture site was clean and unswollen, i didn't have a fever so i put some of my homemade comfrey salve on it.

i started getting wobbly when we went out to get in the truck for the vfd meeting. i don't remember driving there (about a 12 minute drive), i don't remember the meeting and i don't remember going to our friends' house afterwards!!!! jam took me home and put me in bed and on thursday morning i woke up in incredible pain with my foot swollen to the size of a soccer ball! it was horrendous and i couldn't walk on it at all.

jam went to the internet to do some more research and i called 2 of my friends who are emt trained. my one friend recommended that i might need a tetanus shot, and told us to call the Nova Scotia Nurse's Hotline. jam got the number and called the nurse and she took him through a series of at least 150 questions, diagnosed that i was simply reacting to the spider venom, told me to take one benadryl a day, keep off the foot and keep it raised, and to ice it for 10 mins, 4 times a day. she provided her name, told us to call if we had any questions and that if i got a fever to take me to emergency. i have said this many times but we are just sometimes blown away at the services that we receive here!!!!

anyway, i should have taken a pic of my foot on the first day - but let's just say it wasn't on the top of my list as i was moaning and groaning for over a week about being attacked by a venomous cobra!!!! a little melodramatic but it really hurt!

here's a pic of my foot yesterday. almost one full week later. the puncture wounds from the bite are smack dab in the middle of my foot. the blisters on the left are from my shoes.


you can see that the foot and ankle swelled up big time - this pic is the best my foot has looked all week. the swelling has almost all gone down and i am able to walk on it now, but it hurts to be upright for too long.

anyway - if you want to read an excellent article about benadryl and why you should have a ton of it stocked in your preps - see my friend Jane's excellent article here. i had no idea of the many uses for benadryl!!!

well my foot is better, jam is working on the outboard motor, and here's some delicious, creamy mushroom and bacon pasta that we love!


jam went fishing last night and the river is even more backed up!!!!


our breakfast this morning - fresh caught trouts, peas, a tomatey and some soup that i made from home-made bone and veg stock that i added fresh veggies from the garden to! that broth really picked me up last night and this morn.


here's some heal-all (self-heal) salve that i made this morning - i wish i had have had it on hand when i got the bite!


and here's some bone and veg stock that i am making.


we normally freeze our stock but this year we are going to can it - woohoo! i use home-made stock in just about everything, and by canning it, we'll free up room in the freezer for all of peas, beans, peppers, etc.

sorry for not getting to most of your blogs in over a week, but i will catch up! until then, be good to yourselves, read Jane's post, stock up on some benadryl, enjoy your gardens and your harvests and be happy!