Thursday, September 10, 2015

I'm Alive....Continued

I lost a couple of weeks of Summer in August after having to have some minor dermatological surgeries, a couple of spots from my scalp that turned out to be benign and not requiring the Mohs surgery again, thank goodness!

 After the anesthetic and anxiety wore off, it still hurt pretty good for awhile, and I spent a few days, maybe a week just laying around and resting. Reading and watching some Netflix.

Kiki layed around with me some.

LOL, I've never had a kitten or cat as sweetie and lovey as this one is.

I woke up one night to find her laying in front of of me with her nose pressed along mine.
If you sleep on your front, she'll lay on your back/shoulders and stick her head down by your neck to sleep.
If you're laying on your back, she'll lay on your chest and put her head under your chin to sleep.

Sadly, we have to move her out of our faces because extremely close contact like that sets off our allergies.

She still finds a way to get close as she can. In the picture, she'd laid next to me and hugged both paws around my arm.

She's also very smart. She"tells" us when she needs or wants something, and somehow, I'm not sure how, we understand what she's saying, and she can play games, "Guess which hand", and Fetch.

This is a video of her playing "Guess which hand?" with Kev.
That seriously just amazes me.

So the days went on, and eventually it got on towards September, which, even though Autumn doesn't actually begin until the 22nd or 23rd, for most people, Labor Day is traditionally the Last Official Day of Summer, and so begins Fall.

I had gotten excited for Halloween a few weeks ago already....

I finally finished this putz/little glitter house I'd started last year and didn't get done for whatever reason:

...but I can't (don't allow myself to) decorate for Halloween before October 1st. (Too much of a good thing is still too much.)

So I compromise and decorate for "Fall" on/around September 1st.

The pumpkins are  jack-o-lanterns turned around backwards, I just turn them around for Halloween.
Everything stays and I add Halloween/spooky things to it in October, then it turns "Fall" again with some Thanksgiving additions for November.

My Mom and Dad, who lives sometimes in North Georgia, but mostly in North Florida, actually spent more of the Summer in Georgia this year, and my Dad and Cousin raised a huge, awesome garden.  The kind I aspire to, but will probably never make it.

They grew enough veggies for the both of them to fill their pantry shelves with canned goods, which my Mom and my Cousin's wife and some others have been working on canning and/or freezing for over a month, plus at least 5 (that he mentioned, but possibly/probably more) other families/kin were loaded up with garden goodies.

I went for a visit this past weekend and was sent home with jars of homemade spaghetti sauce, canned green beans (that, interestingly, are heirloom beans originally from my great-grandparents', and possibly even great-great-gandparents' gardens), jars of apple butter, frozen corn on the cob, and creamed corn off the cob, a gallon bag of froze blueberries, and jar of pickled okra and peppers for J (yuck).

Mom had a bunch of frozen okra, too, but Dad took Ryan to the garden to cut us some fresh okra for me to put up myself.
As they left he said, "I just cut okra two days ago, there might not be a lot there."

Oh, only this much, lol. 

He grew the garden and even he couldn't believe how much had grown in two days, or how big!

Unlike here, they had nearly perfect growing conditions with just the right amount of rain and sun in the mountains this year. Plus, unlike me, my Dad has always had a green thumb and could always grow stuff anyway.

I ended up "puttin' up" 15 quarts of "okrey".

Dad's apple and pear trees are loaded this year, also.
We picked a 5 gallon bucket of each for me to bring home.

I peeled/cut/sliced pears for most of two days.  Four blisters and aching hands later, it ended up to be 10 quarts of sliced pears, that cooked down to 7.5 pints of pear preserves.

Pears, "sugaring" overnight.

I like to go for zero-waste, and make what ever I can out of what ever I have. I usually make apple cider vinegar out of the apple scraps/peels/cores, but what do with pear scraps? Pear vinegar? Ew?

Anyway I read that I can cook down the pear scraps to make jelly, out of the juice, and CONserve, out of the...fruit that squishes out from the peels and seeds and such when running it through a food mill.

(I knew preserves, but hadn't heard of conserve. I think it might be something like fruit butter, or -sauce like apple-sauce, but pear?)

I don't have a food mill, so I ordered one, that was supposed to be here today.
Tracking says the USPS attempted delivery, but I was here all day, and anyway they usually leave my packages on the carport, so what the heck?

Hopefully I'll get it tomorrow, and can finish up my pears, and get started on the apples.

I brought home 2 kinds of apples: one I can't remember the name of, but are eating apples, and keep in the fridge a good long time, so I will probably just keep those for eating, and Granny Smith's, which are good for baking, so I'll probably make Canned Apple Pie Filling out of those.

By the way, my last batch of canned apple pie filling turned out really good, despite the fact I used soggy, non-baking apples.

And that catches me up to now, and probably the rest of the week or so.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

I'm Alive!

I'm fine...wasn't carried off by The Feels, lol. 

So, let's see, part of my Summer was spent working on re-doing the bedroom upstairs.

I faux-planked the floor and 3 of the walls (the 4th wall needs the windows replaced, so no use in doing it yet).  Also didn't get to the ceiling yet, either, as it wasn't that important.
Mainly I needed to be able to get the furniture my Mom gave me - a huge King size sleigh bed and a large chest of drawers - into the room (and out of my living- and dining rooms).

I did need a light in the room, which here in the South means a ceiling fan.
The ceiling wasn't done, so I wasn't really concerned about a fancy or particular ceiling fan, either. I had an old brass one I'd paid $3.00 for at a yard sale that would work for temporary.

But then, for no reason in particular, I decided to spray paint it. Didn't figure I could make it any worse.

J had brought home several nearly empty cans of black spray paint he rescued from the trash at work,

Plus we have a storage cabinet full of spray and bucket paint he got from cleaning out a basement,

I sprayed the entire fan black,  but then saw a can of Aqua colored spray paint and thought, hm, that might be pretty.

I'm not a great spray-painter, so it was glumpy in some spots, and working outside under a tree, stuff got on it.
No problem, I planned to sand them and give them another coat and let them dry under the porch.

Turned out, when I sanded, it looked like Chalkboard, and I liked it just as it was.
It turned out - IMO - really pretty, for being an old, brass, $3.00 yard sale find.

I bought it a set of cute $6- or $7.00 fan/light pulls, and now it's the room's permanent, no longer temporary, ceiling fan.
(Don't look at the ceiling, it needs work.)

Because I/we work so very slowly, there'll probably never be a finished Big Reveal, but here's a Before and an After-so-far Reveal:

Before (sort of. Our house used to be a duplex, with upstairs/downstairs apartments. This room was actually originally a kitchen. We tore it out to make a bedroom, but it turned into a junk/storage room for most of the time. This was after I cleared out most all the stuff. I actually tried to fix those holes in the pink wall, but it was just in too rough of shape. The original floor is pine hardwood, but covered in adhesive that I didn't have the muscle, skill or $$ to be able to get fixed):


Still much to do, but more progress than I/we've ever made on anything before, I think.

And much of my Summer, as you know, was spent outside, gardening and messing around in the yard and such.

My 3 Sisters garden failed, and my tomatoes and peppers never did do too well after the deer ate most of the tomatoes.
I did end up canning about 12 pints of stewed tomatoes for chili and homemade veggie soup this Fall/Winter, and about 3 pints of Pico de Gallo (salsa).

My Jack-Be-Little mini pumpkins also did well (for me) and I got about 10 little pumpkins.
Problem was, it was July, not October.

Apparently I could have soaked them in bleach and they would have lasted into October, but I tried another project instead...I cut them open and stirred/moved the innards around to make space for some potting soil. I watered and eventually most of them sprouted little pumpkin plants.
(Forgot to take a picture.)

I gave the pumpkins, sprouts and all to the Ladies (chickens) for a treat.
Well, really as part of their meal. Veggies, yard greens, kitchen scraps, etc. helps stretch the amount of feed they need.

I started seeing posts on some of my FB pages I follow talking about Fall gardening. I'd heard of, but hadn't really paid attention before because I figured it was just things like kale, collards, cabbage, etc. (Which I really should be more interested in, because that's the kind of stuff I could be feeding the Ladies.)

But no, it was apparently that, at least here in the South, because our frost dates are late enough, we could put in a second planting of tomatoes, corn, and what-all's.

I tried rooting some new tomato plants from pieces of the old tomato plants, but that didn't work out.

We did till up a square in another part of the yard and I planted a corn patch. It's coming up pretty good so far. Hopefully it'll continue to grow, and I'll get some corn this Fall.

This was also when I learned that if I want to have pumpkins at Halloween, I should plant them in July (not March/April).

Mid-July, not the last day of, but what the hay, it was still July, so I went for it, and planted more.

This time I tried to do my spot better, not just digging a hole in the ground and trying to grow plants right in with the grass and all.

I spread a layer or two of newspaper over the areas, watered it, then covered the newspapers with grass clippings, and watered good.
I brought some soil/compost and made mounds in/on the clippings, and sowed the pumpkin seeds. 

I started out watering twice a day since it was still hot/dry August, and have kept them weeded and mulched good.

They've sprouted and grown, and just this week finally bloomed the yellow blooms (I was beginning to think they weren't going to).
However, I haven't seen any bees or anything else that looks like pollinators, so I don't know if that will happen.

I really wish I was brave enough to get myself a hive.
I'm not particularly afraid of bees/wasps etc. here and there...but hives? Swarms? Yeah.

So anyway, I thought as long as I was attempting mini-pumpkins for Halloween, why not try for some big ol' jack-o-lantern type pumpkins, too?

So next to the corn patch, we (J) tilled up an area and we built an A-frame trellis thing with wire/fencing for the pumpkin vines to climb.

I've tried growing bigger pumpkins before, several times, so I should have known it, but turns out the larger pumpkin vines are waaaayyyyyy bigger than the mini ones.

I grew about two mini-pumpkin vines per cage-trellis and they wound around it and that was fine.

These bigger vines grew up and over and probably aren't even half as long as they typically grow.

These things are ginormous!

I'm not sure if pruning the vines to keep them short will mess it up.
I tried researching it, but most people seem to know how to grow pumpkins, like to make sure they have enough room to start with, so severe pruning isn't really an issue.

Oh well, if I kill them, I guess I can add it to my pumpkin-growing-failure-list.

(To be continued......)