Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Evil Christmas Elves Made An Early Visit

I've talked about the medium-sized artificial (yes, even though I thought I'd never go there) Christmas tree we purchased a few years ago.  It has lights permanently attached so Papa Pea and I no longer suffer those frustrating periods every year of trying to "help" each other string the lights on a tree.

We're having a little bit of trouble with the lights this year. 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Homemade Wine

Homemade?  Well, hardly.  But it was easy and fun and tasted good.
I've had this recipe in my "To Try" file for quite a while.  It's super-simple and definitely cheating when it comes to actually making wine at home.  But last week I decided to give it a go.
Here's the recipe:
3 cups frozen unsweetened fruit, thawed
(The fruit can be any kind of  berry:
raspberries, strawberries,
blueberries, etc.)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 bottle (720 ml) dry white wine
In a large bowl, combine fruit and
sugar, stirring until well coated.
Stir in wine until sugar is dissolved.
Cover and chill 5 days.
Strain wine through a fine sieve.
Store in the refrigerator.
Serve chilled.
Now you know why I say it's a "cheater" wine.

In hindsight, I realize I should have chosen another wine other than my favorite Middle Sister Sweet & Savvy which is a moscato.  The end product would have been better (I'm thinking) if I had used a dry white wine (well, duh) as suggested in the recipe.  I should have grabbed the vinho verde that was right next to my Sweet & Savvy.

I combined my blueberries (they were wild blueberries) and sugar in my two-quart Pyrex pitcher.  Next the bottle of wine was poured in and I stirred until it seemed the sugar was dissolved.  A plastic wrap cover was wrapped over the top and I placed the container on a shelf in my pantry where it would have no problem staying "chilled" these days.

After the 5 days were up, I strained the liquid into my one-quart pitcher.

The blueberries looked none the worse for wear so I put them in a refrigerator dish to save for some other use.

I labeled the cover of the blueberry dish so no one would eat them with their breakfast oatmeal and get an early morning buzz.  (Actually, I did eat them with my oatmeal and they were fine.  So was I.)

Then I poured the homemade (ha-ha) blueberry wine back into the wine bottle and put it in the refrigerator.
How was the taste?  Probably a smidge sweeter than most people would like.  But, obviously, that was because I used the moscato wine.  Papa Pea said he'll gladly sip a glass of it in the evening while in his reading chair.  Daughter said it tasted exactly like Welch's Grape Juice.  "Exactly," she repeated.  Does it taste like blueberries?  Yes, I think that flavor does come through.  I know I'll have no problem helping to consume the bottle.
I'm eager to try the recipe again.  And I'll definitely use the bottle of vinho verde I have because it's a dry wine and I think the light touch of fizziness it has will add greatly to the end product.  Hmmm, will the fizziness dissipate during the 5 day wait period?  Even if it does, I'm sure it'll be drinkable.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Thanksgiving Wishes

Having somewhere to go is home.
Having someone to love is family.
Having both is a blessing.
                                         - Author Unknown
Sending Thanksgiving wishes to all of you on this holiday weekend.  I feel very thankful for all the blessings in my life.  These include all of you funny, intelligent, thought-provoking, interesting, spirit-lifting people who blog.  I gain so much from "knowing" all of you.  And you readers and bloggers in Canada are included, too even though you celebrate Thanksgiving a month earlier than we do here in the States.
Have a lovely Thanksgiving Day! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

First Snow - But Not Impressive

 Sunday morning we had quite the snowstorm for a short period of time.  It was the first snow that stayed on the ground this season.  At least it stayed for a few hours.  By afternoon, the sun came out and melted most of it.

There's something about the first snow that is exciting.  (Above shows the start of the snowing.)

The wind picked up and started to really blow.  (Picture taken before strong winds blew.)  We watched as it literally tore the leaves off the apple trees.  Those trees usually hold on to their leaves almost until the new buds push them off in the spring.

Only a week now until I change the decorations in the window boxes from fall to Christmas/winter.

Our temperature yesterday morning was 16° which is the coldest we've had since last winter.  I wanted to go to town to pick up the last few ingredients I needed for Thanksgiving so bundled up and headed out.

I made it only about half way out our driveway when I came upon the blockage of the second tree in about a week's time that's been blown over by the wind.  You can see the stump where it broke off to the right of the drive.

Although it's hard to see, there's a second bare poplar tree a bit farther down the drive that is also lying across the driveway.

I backed up until I could turn around and gave Papa Pea the news that he had some wood work to do.  This is getting to be a regular thing.

The day didn't warm up much at all.  I think our high for the day was 20°.  If we hadn't had that sun on the snow, I think we would have kept it as a first layer of what's to come this winter.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

One More Fall Chore Done

We've had two (maybe three?) nights when the strawberry plants shivered in temps down to the high 20s, and the soil around them, probably because of our mostly sunless, gray days, has become frozen on top.
Time to spread a blanket of straw on them for the winter.

We had the help of our quasi-grandson to accomplish the task.  Look closely on the top of the bale of straw and you'll see the bobcat he brought out to move the straw with.

I guessed it would take two bales of straw (they're big, hefty bales) to cover the whole berry patch, but ended up needing about a third of one more. 

Then we laid cattle panels on top of the straw to keep it from blowing away before a few inches of snow fall and are enough to hold it in place.
Not a hard task, but it feels good to get it crossed off the list. 

Monday, November 15, 2021

A Good Day, But Glad It's Over

Today was our first chicken butchering day of the season.  Probably two more to go.

Seven roosters from the chicks we ordered this past spring were processed.  
See the green goblet at the far end of the counter in above picture?  What's that liquid in it, you might inquire.  Alas, it was just water but I did seriously contemplate pouring myself a half glass of my favorite white wine when we had reached that point.  Sensibility won out.
We've never butchered such meaty roosters.  The seven together weighed a total of 28 lbs. 4 oz. which averages out to 4 lbs. each after plucking, gutting and cleaning.  It's a goodie-good feeling to know we have that home grown, organically raised and fed chicken meat packaged and in the freezer for this winter.
Our dear daughter (and what an integral part she played) jumped in with both feet (plus hands and heart) and worked throughout from beginning to end.
I have to admit when we butcher I always acknowledge (usually out loud to anyone within earshot) that I could go back to a vegetarian diet.  (But won't.)
All in all, a good day.  And I'm glad it's over. 

Friday, November 12, 2021

And The Rains Came Down

We had heavy rains all day Wednesday night through Thursday.  I don't have an accurate measurement as I'd already taken in my rain gauge a week or so ago as in the past I have seemed to have a tendency to leave it out in the fall just a titch too long and have ended up with a cracked glass tube.  More than once.
We've heard estimates of somewhere around 5" of rain has fallen.
I didn't think it would happen this fall but our pond filled up to over-flow capacity.

This was the picture of the pond in my last post.

And this is the way it looks this morning.
Many trees in the area went down because of the super-saturated ground.

The only one on our property that affected us was this one blocking the end of our driveway.
Our temp has stayed above freezing so we've not seen any snow yet.  But because we're nearly to the middle of November, I'm sure it's coming! 

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Today and Tomorrow May Be the Last Hurrah

We've hardly been able to believe how long our unusually warm fall weather has hung on this year.  If we can believe the forecast, though, starting this Thursday we may be into real November weather.
Heavy rain and dropping temperatures may finally arrive.  (The s-n-o-w word is even being whispered.)  In a way, it will be a relief as this balmy extended weather has allowed us to keep working on just one more outside chore.  And one more, and one more.  Good to get them done, but when does the slow time start?

The garden is finally ready for a long winter's nap.  It's no doubt hard to believe we're still in drought-like conditions looking at the green grass you see above.  They say grass is hard to kill, and that's the truth.  Even though most was matted flat and straw-colored in August, and we had only a sprinkling of about three showers, the grass drank up every drop and came back to life.  We've also had about a month of very heavy dew each morning which I'm sure helped all growing things.

Here's a shot of one of our flat planting areas cleared and set for winter.

We recently shredded three bales of straw which we'll use in the chickens' nest boxes in the next several months.

Papa Pea pitchforked it into a spare water tank which we'll cover to keep the shredded straw dry and usable all winter.

Evidence of the drought still having an effect is our sad-looking pond.  As shown by the picture of the east end of it, you can tell where the water line normally would be by the dirt around the sides.
If we do get a deluge of the rain promised on Thursday of this week, here's hoping a lot of it runs into the pond!  And if it snows?  That might just convince us to come inside and start our hibernation for the winter.

Friday, November 5, 2021


~  I love the month of November.  For me, it signals the end of a busy summer season and the start of more time to enjoy all those inside things I've wanted to do but have put off since I felt doing those outside things were more important.  
~  The grower in our area from whom we were planning to purchase our potatoes this year planted 650 pounds of potato eyes and harvested 400 pounds of potatoes.  Blame the drought.
~  After I clean, sort and reorganize, putting items in a more convenient, logical spot, why can't I remember where they are?
~  Why does the last of a huge pot of applesauce just made fill only three-quarters of the last quart jar going into the canner?
~  Remembering Grandma and Grandpa's kitchen table when there were nine of us living there and the old-fashioned toaster with two sides that flipped down for you to insert the slices of bread.  (Anybody old enough to have a memory of that contraption?)  How did we all manage to get toast for breakfast?
~  Remembering Grandma and Grandpa's one tiny bathroom in that house.  A toilet, free-standing sink and claw foot bathtub.  And no running hot water unless you ran with it from a big pot on the kitchen stove.
~  How do recipes get published that are overly time-consuming, tasteless and just plain awful?
~  I'm feeling such empathy for the folks in our area who are experiencing their wells going dry because of the drought conditions we've had over the last many months.
~  Many years ago when I was out in the "working world," I enjoyed compliments on my long, manicured fingernails.  These days I grump and groan about how fast same fingernails grow and too often require clipping and filing to keep them manageable for my lifestyle.
~  Crawling through an 18" opening into a visiting 3-year old's "cave" which has been constructed over our couch with our king-sized bed comforter isn't as hard as then having to back out of it.
~  It's disturbing to know that when my husband and I make a trip over the back roads to a small sawmill to pick up a quantity of lovely sawdust to use in my strawberry bed next spring, we consider it our social outing of the month.
~  I play Christmas music from the first of November through New Year's.  (Yes, I do.  And I'll fight anybody who complains.) 

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Public Service Announcement

Here's a little tidbit of info I feel compelled to share.
Last summer, I came across information in a couple of sources regarding the making of Stuffed Green Peppers that stated it was not necessary to blanch the pepper halves before stuffing them.
Great, I thought, that eliminates one step in the process of making and filling the freezer with our winter's supply of them.
The sources I came across for the non-blanched pepper method stated that the peppers might have a little firmer texture, but that was fine with me as I have never been particularly fond of the way the peppers turn (what I consider) too mushy when baked and served.
So I didn't blanch the peppers for my usual batch of Stuffed Green Peppers this year.
Bad idea.
To say the peppers come out "firmer" is an understatement.  To my mind, they don't seem to have been cooked.  At all.  Truly.
The more objectionable characteristic, however, is that they are BITTER in flavor.
Last night, after consuming our second dinner of Stuffed Green Peppers, we made the decision that we may simply eat the "stuffing" part of the peppers and relegate the crunchy, bitter pepper part to the chicken bucket.
And if this morsel of hard-learned wisdom is of any use to any of you, you're welcome.