Dandelion Jelly

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Dandelion Jelly.

The other day I was researching how to effectively kill dandelions when I found this anti-kill article on how great they are. After I laughed and mentioned to my dog the person was crazy, I read it. It was all about how you can eat the leaves (dandelion greens), knew that. The root can be brewed for tea, knew that. And that the flowers can be turned into a light honey tasting like jam. Well hot damn, I didn’t know that!

I have many dandelions around. In fact I kind of agreed to the hubby I would take a break picking them and work on other things I lied. So I went to the side of the road yesterday after needing a break from gardening/edging the gardens in our yard and picked some dandelions flowers. Well, not some. A ton. An entire bucket full, I know I needed 8-10 cups. A hint for all – go for the big ones, don’t go for the little ones if you can help it. Apparently they are sweeter – not sure about that. But when you are taking the yellow part off the bud it’s easier to get the big ones apart and you get more bang for your buck to speak.

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Fancy smansy bucket! Chock full!

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After assembling my ingredients I realized I didn’t have liquid pectin, but powered pectin as my recipe required.

That’s okay, I found one that used powered and carried on. The more time consuming part is separating the dandelion heads. They tell you to cut the bottom of the bud off, that didn’t seem that effective to me. I was a kid that used to spend every day possible outside. I’m used to destroying flowers. Take the bud and kind of roll it in between your thumb and pointer finger putting pressure on it. Then the yellow part will just pull right out. They also mentioned to run them under cold water – don’t. It makes them wet and hard to deal with.

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Believe it or not this is an hour and a half of work.

So now the fun could begin. Take about five cups of water and the yellow flowers you’ve set aside and put them in a pot. Bring to a boil and let boil for a bit then simmer for a couple minutes.

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Little snail was in with dandelion heads, I put him back outside to play

After you remove it from the heat you need to use a cheesecloth or strainer to get the ‘tea’ away from the buds. Oh uh – I don’t have a strainer. I do have some coffee filters somewhere though! So I had to start hunting. And where did I find them?

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In the Garden shed!

Then I strained the juice and disposed of the leftover boiled flowers.

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What I’m left with!

Now for the rest of it. A package of powered pectin, three cups of the tea, four and a half cups of sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

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Premeasured sugar
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little jars ready to go!
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Tops and jars sitting in boiling water

Put it in a pot and bring it to a boil, let it boil for about five minutes and then remove from heat and pour into jars.

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Boiling!

Now to put it into the jars! Final product –

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Ta-da!
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Beauty!

Well – guess what everyone is getting a jar of for christmas!! 🙂

Let me know if you’re trying this and how it turns out!

Wood, Wood and more wood

This year we got our eight cord of wood and unlike past years this year we were able to cut it and it’s mostly all split within a month! New Record folks!!!
As previously mentioned I have found ways to use some of the wood chips/bark as mulch but there are other things I would like to do now that we have all these materials just sitting and waiting for me!

I like to get an early start on Christmas gifts – I also like to make them. I feel it’s an all around better gift when it’s homemade.

The other night I mentioned how great it would be to have thinly sliced thick charger sized pieces and then littler coaster sized slices. Then I forgot about it. Guess what I found this morning!

Did I mention how great my hubby is?!

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Next I will be sanding and finishing them off with a clear coat. I will be letting them dry out first and then get into it. Hopefully four coasters to each family member. So we will need plenty more! The chargers I’m not sure who will get those gems! Someone lucky that’s for sure. 

More logs to be sliced and I also want to make a side table like this one I’ve fallen in love with:

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The fun will begin after the splitting and stacking has finished. 

Today I filled the rest of the shed up with wood, lots of work but it saves us a couple thousand dollars in oil heat.

Cheers to all – any other wood inspiration for me?

 

Yard Treasures

Tonight I’m up late. Very late. It’s 1:24 am right now

Why? Well, Sir Mike has gone to a fire call (fabulous volunteer firefighter that he is) – structure fire – so I’m sitting at home worried. Also I’m stressed on his behalf. He gets up at 5am to go to work, we usually go to bed at 10pm. He would have three and a half hours of sleep if he got home now. Poor man. I feel horrible for the family who lost their home tonight but I also feel horrible for the many volunteers losing their sleep to battle the flames before they work in the morning.

When I am worried I like to plan, well I plan when it’s dark. If it was daylight I would be stacking wood to keep busy, since the house is clean already I’m planning out the yard. 

We are also at a crossroads:  

  1. buy land & build a house
  2. buy a house we like more with a bigger yard
  3. stay here.

We are trying to decide what to do before we dump more money spend more here.
However land is expensive and we haven’t had any luck so far. Especially where I want to live. So for now we stay.

Remember how I cleaned behind the shed the other week, I found a couple of gems hidden back there besides just the obvious wood I’ve been using to create raised garden beds.

This old wagon wheel was just tossed out back;

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I mean honestly people pay a pretty penny for a beauty like this!

The rest I’ve yet to find a use for besides the great pots (no cracks!) I found. Including the pipes, metal rods and fishing rod.

Besides that my apple tree is blooming;

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Other free gems we have gotten over the past year are this spinning tree hanging ornament that a relative got for Christmas and mentioned giving it to charity. So I of course offered to take it instead. Also the metal bench by the pond in the second picture was going to be thrown away at mikes old work. We bought cushions for it (still in storage) and it’s actually quite comfortable!

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What gems have you saved from the trash or gotten for free?!?!

In ending, here is to all the volunteers dedicating their time and hours of sleep to help keep us safe. Cheers and stay safe.

 

Making Biscuits and Weeding

This week is beautiful out – Finally the sun!!

So This Sunday we were invited to my parents for homemade chinese food and I brought some sweet potato biscuits for an after dinner tea snack. 

They are so easy to make, moist and delicious!
I got the recipe from Martha Stewart (http://www.marthastewart.com/343818/sweet-potato-biscuits)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and shaping
  • 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus 1/2 tablespoon melted butter and more for pan
  • 3/4 cup Sweet-Potato Puree, chilled
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk

DIRECTIONS

  1. Make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some pea-sized lumps of butter remaining. In a small bowl, whisk together sweet potato puree and buttermilk; stir quickly into flour mixture until combined (do not overmix).
  2. Shape the biscuits: Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead very gently until dough comes together but is still slightly lumpy, five or six times. (If dough is too sticky, work in up to 1/4 cup additional flour.) Shape into a disk, and pat to an even 1-inch thickness. With a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits as close together as possible. 
  3. Bake the biscuits: Preheat oven to 425 degrees, with rack on lower shelf. Butter an 8-inch cake pan. Arrange biscuits snugly in pan (to help them stay upright). Brush with melted butter. Bake until golden, rotating once, 20 to 24 minutes.

Did I mention Delicious!?!

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I also finished weeding behind the vegetable garden, got manure for the pumpkin patch I was able to create with some of the reclaimed space we found after the weeds disappeared, planted the seeds and I used some of the boards I found after cleaning behind the heads total cost for pumpkin patch – 2 bags of manure – 2/$5 and two packages of pumpkins – $1.89 each. $10.09

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Before – weed central
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pumpkin patch – I like to put sticks by where I plant to know what not to weed.
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mint, radishes
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After!

I then worked on the cucumber bed. What a pain! Those weeds from the neighbours side of the fence are working their way over. Total Cost – 2 bags of manure – 2/$5 and three packages of cucumber seeds $1.89/each = $12.27

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Cukes!

I also got all of our grocery shopping done/meal plan for the week. Popped into Staples for seed envelopes and then value village to get a great metal box I saw last week and didn’t get… It was gone but it worked out for the best. I got a larger airtight container for $1.99 that will fit all the seeds. Better to have them all in one place and organized. 

Puttering after all my planting and hand tilling the manure/peat moss into the dirt I started in on the long garden seperating us from our closest neighbour. Mike cut the trees dividing us because they were really taking over and crazy so we are reworking it.

I moved a bleeding heart plant I found in among the weeds and found a wild strawberry patch! Awesome! Started weeding and edging that and then went up to mikes moms to get those lilac bush plants she had mentioned we could have. Free plants = awesome! Got them and planted them right away. Now to finish the edging and that garden as well as behind the pond and I’ll be all set!!

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Remaining bed to deal with…

A gardeners work is never complete…

This past couple weeks have been busy here at the Stevens household.

The rest of the garden was planted, weeds maintained, dandelion war commenced, busy with work, making more laundry soap, my family from Tennessee come down, I got to see a great friend before she went back to BC, working in the front yard gardens and of course we can’t forget about the stacking and splitting of the wood.

It’s been rainy this past week. So the delicate balance between staying dry and wanting to garden was off kilter. I spent many rainy days weeding, yard work and moving mulch around. Did I mention weeding?

The plants are popping up and I’m a little worried as there are two more weeks until the risk of frost is gone. Pea’s are huge. Turnip, Brussels spouts, broccoli, spinach, onions, carrots, green onions and beets have poked their heads above ground.

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Beautiful to anyone else?

This week I have been adding my wheat grass into my smoothies – not too bad!
Also more veggies and less red meat and dairy.

Hit the ten pounds lost mark this week. To celebrate I bought myself a bright yellow North Face rain jacket. Maybe new rain boots after twenty lost?

Weeding behind the garden is this weeks project, as well as the dandelions. I will be planting the pumpkins and more cucumbers this week. So much to do!

Nothing feels better than sleep after a full day of gardening.

Heres to healthy eating and spending time outside.

Raindrops keep falling on my head

This weekend was a busy one! 

Besides hosting a mothers day lobster dinner and working I was able to get some yard work done. We mowed the lawn for the first time. My favourite spring time smell. 

We put the finishing touches on our bathroom renovation – besides one small strip between the wall and tub it’s all done! To remind you what it used to look like…

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and now…

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Feels larger, brighter and cleaner. Nothing better than a freshened up bathroom!

I had to pick up some more seeds to plant and then I wed the gardens, started edging and mulching the front flower gardens and working around the pond. So much left to do that it’s almost overwhelming. That wood isn’t cutting and splitting itself but no need to buy mulch – the wood chips look just like natural bark mulch! Hidden bonus, nothing better than using something you have and saving money.

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It’s been raining since last friday but yesterday we had enough sun to allow me to hang out the laundry and do yard work. I also made a batch of freezer shepherds pies and while cleaning out the pantry tried to figure out what I can start to use with the meat going bad in our freezer. The last of the deer meat was used and some old hamburger!

Ended up getting 6 Shephards Pies to freeze for Mike and Evan to cook on lazy nights when I work or if we’re too lazy to cook!

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I also splurged on a new quilt and matching pillows – nothing like some pink to drain the manly right out of a bedroom. 🙂

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Rain is good for the garden but lets hope it lets up soon.

 

Wood Heat, comes with a price.

On Friday we got our wood. 
8 cord. Eight Cord of wood.

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Saturday and Sunday became cutting and splitting days and Monday I wheeled it all to the wood shed. We know most people leave it out to dry but the shed has airflow and it’s such an eyesore. In the middle of the front yard and if we leave it in a pile by the time we get to it it is full of bugs and spiders and snakes. Mike is terrified of snakes – me, I hate spiders. The shed will hold 4.5 – 5 cord of cut wood, the rest we will have to stack behind the wood shed on pallets. 

We have also been getting rid of rubbish around the yard and fixing the place up. Today I planted more of the garden, started weeding and ran around like a mad woman doing errands. 

Yesterday I thought I was being clever and put the tomato plants out for some sunshine. I was wrong. Too much sun and I shocked them all to death. They are all dead. 😦

So much weeding to do I’m a tad overwhelmed, a little by a little though right? 🙂

We also, (maybe to replace the dead tomato plants?) got a couple new fish for the freebie aquarium we were given. We had one lowly tetra in a bowl, now he has three more tetras and a beta fish (Siamese fighting fish) along with a moss ball (so cool!) and three additional water plants – we already had one. 
Of course we made sure to buy hardy and low maintenance fish and water plants because we are not the fish people some people are.

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Today I also got some glass panes, I was looking for windows but I think  panes for the cold frames will work just as well. Also I would love a patio greenhouse but we will see how that goes, we have so much weeding and wood to go through that will all have to wait.

When I got Lexxi and Baxters Flea Medication they had a snazzy collar and leash that I thought our hunter men would appreciate. Baxter was sad, none in his size collar wise. He will get one soon though!

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Sunny Cheer!