Tuesday, July 11, 2017

When Life Hands You Basil, Make Pesto!

We were slow at packing up after the Sunday market.  It had been a busy day.  The week before at the market, I had done something to my ribs on my right side while leaning over the side of the market trailer and trying to stretch enough to reach for something on the far side. The wood side of the trailer was digging into my ribs.  All of a sudden there was a pop or crack or some sort of noise and pain in the rib area. Not sure what I did, my best guess is that I tore a muscle on that side, or maybe I cracked a rib? Who knows.  It had bothered me on and off all week, depending on what I was doing.  At times the pain was brief but excruciating.  On Saturday I hardly noticed it, but on Sunday while setting up at the market it returned in a fury, and bothered me all day.  Therefore I was taking it slow easy when we were taking down.  We are generally one of the last vendors to leave, and the market manager was still there also.  She called over, asking me if I wanted any basil, and then she said I could have it all, maybe to just feed to the chickens. She had been given a box with about 12 large bunches of basil in it by another vendor. 

I used to grow basil, a lot of it.  Many years ago a few women who met at a Moms and Tots class started growing it and taking it to sell to some of the vendors at Granville Island.  Duso's and the Stock Market had regular orders.  After that enterprise folded, I still continued to grow a large bed of basil and sold it at the markets.  Two or three years ago the basil was hit by downy mildew.  After I got a cut or two off it it the leaves started to yellow and it developed black spores on the underside of the leaves.  The whole bed was affected.  The same thing happened last year, so this year I only have a few small clumps up by the tomatoes in the other garden, that I bought from a nursery. 

When we got the gifted basil home I had a look at it, and thought it looked a bit sad and wilted.  I put some water in a big bin and propped all the bunches up and put it outside overnight, thinking that the dew would help to freshen it up.  Well the dew part didn't happen because it clouded over during the night, but the basil was slightly perked up.  I offered some of the loose leaves to the chickens but they pecked at it once or twice and walked away.  So I decided to make pesto.

Usually what I have done with extra basil was to just blend it up with some oil and freeze it in ice cube trays, and then add a cube or two to pasta sauce.

This time I decide to make actual pesto, or close to it at least.  I thought about looking at an actual recipe, but really didn't want to.  I wouldn't have liked the first one I saw, which would lead to me looking at ten more, and then I have to decide on one, or take parts of different recipes, and then read it every two minutes because I couldn't remember the amounts. Ugggghhh.  I dislike having to follow a recipe.

So I knew the basics.  Basil, olive oil, garlic, nuts, salt.  No cheese in this house.
I took about 1/3 of the bunches, washed and spun them in the salad spinner and ripped everything off the big thick stems.



Yay, a way to use up some leftover garlic scapes.  So I chopped a couple or three of those up.



Tossed the greens in the food processor, poured in what I thought was enough oil, a decent handful of walnuts and a bit of sea salt.



One batch down, two more to go.



I think it made about 5 cups.  I didn't have any decent ice cube trays, so used some 125 ml canning jars. It filled up 9. (I'm pretty sure I ate what would have filled the tenth one).  When it's frozen I'll run hot water over the bottom of the jars and slip the frozen pesto out and store the blocks in a freezer bag.



On Mothers's Day Meredith had us over for supper.  She made a recipe with chicken and pesto, and it was really good.  I sort of tried to replicate it tonight.  
Sliced chicken breast sauteed in coconut oil and then one of the jars of pesto dumped in and stirred around, the sliced tomatoes added to the top and then it was put in the oven to cook a bit more, along with the cauliflower rice.

So tonight's dinner was......
Leftover salad greens from the market, cauliflower rice on top, and the chicken mixture on top of that. 
Not as good as Meredith's but tasty all the same, and I didn't have to follow a recipe!


Friday, June 30, 2017

The Ticky Tacky Redneck Greenhouse

Our route often takes us past a dog club friend's property, where they have dog agility equipment set up in the front field.  There was an old metal 6 sided gazebo frame there that often caught my eye.  I always thought that it would look so cool with beans trained to grow over it, making a leafy little cave.  One day I was over there helping to clean agility equipment for the BC/Yukon Regionals.

Yep, that's me, power washing the inside of the tunnels.

I mentioned to Marilyn that she should grow beans on the gazebo frame.  She laughed and said that shortly they were going to get rid of it.  Well if you know me.......
So I mentioned that I might be interested.  

Her husband called last weekend and said he was wanting it gone, so if we were interested, to come and have a look.  When we got there, he said it might be a wasted trip.  All the nuts and bolts on the frame were rusted.  A couple of welds were broken from the frame being dragged around to mow the grass.  A leg had got bent when hit by the lawnmower.  Larry and I thought it would be okay, as long as we could get it apart.  We gathered some tools, and amazingly, all the bolts cooperated and we got it all apart and stuffed into our little car.

I wanted to keep the momentum going, so that afternoon I put the side walls back together, and then Larry came and helped me with the rafters.

Tuesday we dragged out our big old piece of greenhouse plastic and cut off a piece that we thought might work.
Wednesday I fiddled around with it and got the plastic tied down to the poles, but not the gazebo.  If a wind storm comes along it will just take the plastic and not the gazebo as well.  
I had planted 3/4 of those tomato plants before we went to Oliver last week.


  

There are strings attached to the rafters and to the plants down the middle. I will twist the plants around the strings as they grow. 
My first job after high school was in a tomato greenhouse, and that is how they tied up their tomatoes.



I did move some of the plants around the edge so that I could tie them to the frame and then as they got taller, could used the strings I stretched between the top and the lower part of the wall.



While I've got you at this garden, I might as well show you the rest.  
Here you are looking at four rows of dahlias, 74 of them.  These make my heart go pitter patter, because they are doing so well, and this time last year I didn't even have the majority of them planted!


I can even see a flower bud!
And look at that thin red line along the leaf, which I would never have noticed if not for this picture.



From the north end of the garden. Photo bombing on the right is one of three red currant bushes.  It was an excellent year for them and I picked five buckets, yet to be made into jelly.  Behind them, out of sight, are five blackcurrant bushes, yet to be picked


To the left of the dahlias are another two rows with 26 dahlias.  I told Larry I had 100 dahlias planted, and his only comment was 'Why?'.
And to the left of those are 4 rows of potatoes, which I hilled up tonight. To the very left is a wild mess of raspberries.

Blackcurrants


On the other side of the raspberries (to the right in this photo) are a few blueberry bushes, a massive rhubarb patch that has done sooo well after I transplanted them last year, then a row of blueberry bushes.
I'm hoping the streamers will keep the birds off the blueberries, but I have my doubts as I saw a robin in there tonight.  I've got some other shiny metallic tape to hang up that worked well on the figs last year, and also on the red currants.



On the other side of the blueberries is a row with 19 zucchini plants, it extends down into the shade, which ends up in the sun about 10am.  I'm hoping there will be zukes ready in a couple of weeks.



Blueberries starting to ripen, I've eaten one or two



Raspberries too



Little tomatoes



Squash seeded directly into the manure pile.  I'm interested to see how they do



And back down at the house, a couple of roses



I've spent a lot of hours in that garden this week, and have thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I'm reminded of how much I enjoy growing food... and dahlias 𝨝😉.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Hardest Part is Getting Started

That title applies to just about everything I do.  I procrastinate....and procrastinate some more.....

It was somewhere in the middle of May when Melissa (David's girlfriend) arrived at our house with a sewing project for me.  I have mentioned that she teaches ballet, but I haven't mentioned that she was quite an accomplished ballerina until an injury in her early twenties ended her career.  She has kept some if not all of her costumes, and was lending two of them to two of her students for the year end recital.  
One needed a little work, as the bottom half of it was a gauzy pair of wide pants, and she needed it to be a skirt to go over the top of a tutu.  The bodice part was fine, and nothing much needed changing.  We pulled out the pants and looked at them, and I got her to cut them open at the inseam.  I figured I could get three pieces out of each leg, and could join them all and make a circle that might just be big enough.  We shoved it all back in the bag while we had a visit, and then there it sat.  She visited a few more weeks, and the bag was still on the same chair as the day she brought it.  Finally, the last week before the recital on the Sunday, she asked me if she could come over and help me with the skirt.  Ha, the girl was getting worried it wouldn't be done on time!  So we pulled it out again and discussed it some more, and decided to make six petals instead to make up the skirt.

I folded each leg in thirds and made up a newspaper pattern to use up as much of the fabric as I could.  Then I got out some other material and actually cut out three petals and hand gathered them and put them together to make sure it was going to work.  It seemed like it would.



Okay, now I had a plan in my head, and was sort of excited about the project, so got going on it on the Thursday.
 I am used to sewing simple things these days, so had forgotten some little tricks.  When you are gathering something it works better to do two rows of long stitches about a 1/4" apart, and then pull one thread on each row to gather it up. I forgot about the second row and had the skirt gathered for the waist, but ended up loosening it off and adding the other row, and it was a much nicer gather.

The skirt needed a waistband.  When the girls are dancing the bodice rises, so there needs to be something to cover that bare spot.  I used some broadcloth and found some ancient interfacing, but the scraps left over from the petals were not enough to cover it.  Luckily there had been some arm pieces that went from mid upper arm and tapered to a point with a loop going around the middle finger.  There were a few slits down the length of that arm piece, but I was able to piece enough together to cover the waistband.



The inside of the bodice and the inside of the finished waistband.  See the four buttons?  There are four pieces of special elastic on the inside of the bodice, with buttonholes in it.  The buttons attach to those pieces of elastic so that the bodice gets pulled back down.  Pretty neat idea I thought!  I found some little hooks and used the sewing machine to make loops for those hooks, just like the costume maker had done.  I knew how tight the bodice needed to be, and added loops for that, and then gave three options for the waistband.


Melissa had kept on talking about these 'little' girls that were borrowing the costumes, and the costumes did seem small.  
I was picturing 6 year olds.  
I said I wanted a picture, and Melissa said she would get me a ticket for the recital.  Unfortunately it was on a Sunday and I was at the farmers market.
So all I got was a picture.

These lovely young ladies aren't quite as little as I was imagining!


And, I got the job finished on the Friday, and the recital wasn't until Sunday!! 
That is early for me 😀
I spent about 6 hours on it, which is rather a lot, but did have fun with it and was quite happy with how it turned out.  I have NOOOO thoughts of being a costume maker though, no thanks!


Monday, June 26, 2017

A Quick 'There and Back'

We made a quick trip to Oliver last week.  Just two nights away.  We wanted to go and check on things, cut the grass and water everything.  The previous trip at the end of May, we got rather a shock to see the grass and weeds in the back 'lawn' looking like a hay field.  A bit embarrassing, and just that day the neighbour across the lane had come in with her lawnmower to tackle some of it. 
 Oops.


Usually the day we are leaving I have a long list of things that 'must' be done.  Of course it is only me that thinks they are essential, and it always involves plants or seeds.  This time we had a chiropractor appointment in town at 10am.  Soooo, I needed to be ready to go by 9:40, as town was in the same direction as Oliver and it would seem to silly to backtrack home.  We made the appointment with time to spare, mostly because the doctor was running late.  The weather was decent, cloudy and warmish, and the forecast was for improvement and sunshine for the rest of the week.  Just a slight chance of showers.  The dogs still needed a walk so we stopped at an off leash area near Sumas Mountain and walked along the dyke.  We could see a rain shower in the distance along the mountain, and it gradually caught up with us and then got very heavy and we had to make a run for the car.  Back on our way. 

Larry had heard that traffic was backed up because of construction the Vedder Bridge, so just in case we took a detour, that I thought would only add minutes on to our travel, but it seemed to take ages to get back to the freeway.  

I was driving this first stretch.  Nearly an hour into the trip, a few miles out of Hope, I suddenly noticed some red lights behind my sun glasses which were sitting in front of the speedometer.  Battery light on and temperature light flashing red. Oh shit!  So I took the next exit and we pulled over and stared at each other.  Larry may have a couple of mechanically minded cells in his body, but his brother and our son got the other 99.9% of them.  It didn't help that it was pelting rain, and we didn't really have the right clothing.  Eventually Larry got out and lifted the hood, and all I could think of was that he was hoping there was a flashing red light and an arrow that said 'problem here'.  Anyway, I got out and added my lack of mechanical knowledge to Larry's, but even I could see that there seemed to be a belt missing by the alternator, which Larry had already noticed.  So to spare you a few details we limped into Hope, taking a few stops to let the engine cool a bit, but thinking back maybe the flashing light came on because the water pump wasn't working either.  (David's suggestion) The engine may not have been hot, but we were being warned that things weren't right.  I was Googling mechanics, and our first stop wasn't able to help us, but made a suggestion where else to go.  There we were successful, or at least they were able to look the car.  We couldn't leave the dogs in the car, so headed out for a walk, and the weather was still wet.  I had gone from shorts, t shirt and sandals to pants, windbreaker and runners. Larry was less prepared, so we borrowed an umbrella from the dealership and hiked off to McDonalds for some coffee and a bite to eat.  Those showers were still coming down.  At McDonalds we sat at an outside table on a pile of paper napkins to keep our backsides dry.  Then the rain started to pour again and we had to go and stand under the overhang at the front of McDonald's, where the panhandlers hang out, thankfully none there that day.  I'm sure the dogs just could not figure this out.

The rain eased, and we took the shorter route back down the main road, but then the rain dumped on us yet again.  We found a massive tree to stand under for a bit, and then WE were approached by a panhandler.  Always glad when I can honestly say I have no money on me.


By the time we were almost back to the dealership the sun had broken through for a few minutes.  We passed this cute little store with a nice garden on the side of it.  Worth a look into one of these times, but I just wasn't in the mood that day.


We even caught up to our panhandler friend on the way back, as she was heading home. 
The car had been moved and was at the back of a lineup.  I didn't know if this was good or bad news, so was very much relieved to see Larry getting out his wallet when he went into the office.  A $107 and 2 hours later we were back on the road, yee ha!!

Lots of construction slow downs, raining again but blue skies in the distance.



Paving going on here.  We had to sit and wait while that dump truck came down the road from the right.  It had to turn around with that pup on, in the roadway and that narrow bit of gravel.  It was entertaining.  We watched that truck back into the power pole twice and also hit one of the pylons and push it over the edge.  Oops!



Heading down the mine hill before getting to Princeton.  Blue sky and puffy clouds!


So instead of the 3 pm or so that we had expected to arrive in Oliver, it was 6pm.  At least it was before our usual 'just getting dark' arrival.  The 'lawn' wasn't too long, and was quite dry, and the grass/weeds were crispy sounding as we walked over them.  Larry got the lawn cut and I started watering.

The next morning was sunny and nice.  It is really unusual to see Luna out like this, actually relaxing/dozing in the sun.  She is usually either yipping at the door to come in, or is curled up just under the window I am taking the photo through.



We have a lot of this succulent growing there.  Comes in handy to fill in bare spots and survives the heat and drought.  It has interesting 😉 shaped flower stalks that get taller than this and then end up falling over.  That is a bee balm in the middle and a wallflower to the right of it.




The dogs got their morning walks and a nice swim in the lake in the afternoon.  




Tragopogon dubius (Yellow Goat's Beard)


Too soon it was time to leave.  
I said goodby to the porch pooches, and promised to return soon.


I'd love to have a nice planter with flowers on the front step, but they would soon be dead and crispy from lack of watering.  The porch pooches and some fake plants on the other side of the door are the best I can do.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Feeling a Bit Out of Sorts

 David flew in from Edmonton on Thursday evening.  Melissa picked him up and they came over here, and Meredith joined us as well and we had a really lovely dinner and visit.   The next morning they headed out early to pick up the Uhaul van that David had reserved.

The place that they rented in Edmonton came with a bit of furniture, but they needed more.  I offered them various pieces that we had, and they said 'yes' to seven of them!  Yee ha, we could get rid of some 'stuff'.  Most of it was already in use somewhere.  In fact the two biggest pieces were in my sewing room.  The big dresser was holding up one side of my cutting table, and the tv stand project piece was maybe going to be a shoe rack bench in our bedroom, but in the meantime I was using it to store fabric.  Then there was a matching chest of drawers that went with the dresser, as well as a matching night table, and another night table that almost matched, and a third night table that Larry had made in high school. Yes, we hang on to everything!  Some of the stuff was piled outside the front door. There was also an old trunk (potential coffee table?), and a solid oak desk (buried under the tv stand) that David had picked up for $10 and $3 respectively when he had come to some garage sales with us on his graduation trip.



 We also passed on to them a large, heavy three piece mirror that was meant for an old style dressing table, the kind that is lower in the middle.  A stupid purchase I made at an auction many years ago when I was determined to outbid a dealer lady that was snapping up all sorts of antiques.  And....we never used it, anywhere.  Good to say goodbye to that!


Still lots of room, but Melissa was concerned that all her stuff, including furniture and horse stuff, might take up more space than was left.  Thankfully, in the end, it all fit in.  

They left our place Friday noon, to go and load Melissa's stuff.  We said our goodbyes sort of, but then I decided I was going to bring a cooler over to the horse barn with food in for Tucker (I had been feeding him a raw diet) on Saturday morning when they were leaving.  And then I thought how silly that was, I was going to get weepy all over again.
That afternoon it seemed so incredibly quiet.  No Tucker to be wondering about.  Where is he, what is he doing, what undigestible thing is he eating NOW? Damn dog....
In fact that cute little pup had turned into a pretty nice dog.  We have had him to ourselves this last three weeks, and mostly to ourselves a previous three weeks, and then much of the time since last Christmas.
It just seemed toooooo quiet.  I didn't have to worry about unplugging the laptop charger and picking it up from the floor.  (Yes he did chew the end off the charger once)  When I opened the dishwasher, no dog dashed over to give the dishes a quick prewash.  There was a presence missing, that was for sure.  I felt really out of sorts and just didn't quite know what to do with myself.

Saturday morning I got the stuff sorted out for the cooler, and there was a bag of odds and sods they had forgotten, plus some dried apples for the trip.  I was feeling a bit better about things, and wasn't quite as easily bringing myself to tears, just thinking about the tears that would fall when we said goodbye, again.  Oh I am a weeper, just ask my sister! (I was the Maid of Honour at her wedding, I think I cried through the whole ceremony)

We headed over to the horse barn but knew we had lots of time so stopped at one garage sale on the way.  I got myself a chicken!
Maybe I need to hide her in a patch of weeds, and she will look like she is sitting on a hidden nest of eggs.



Eventually the horses were all loaded and ready to hit the road.  Melissa's mom was going along on the road trip.  Her Grampa was pretty cut up about Melissa leaving.  He used to go and help her with the horses, sometimes feeding them for her or cleaning up after them.  The barn owner has said he can still come by and she will have some little jobs for him.  It won't be the same though, and I know they will miss each other terribly.


Tears were shed, I wisely put on sunglasses (because it was so bright!) and so managed to hide some of the waterworks.  I even saw David wipe a tear away.....  Excited for them and the new life they are starting, but so sad to see them go.  And I will miss my little Tucker man.

So after that emotional departure, we consoled ourselves with some more garage sales! 
We got a few good things.  Jake got a 'like new' raincoat for $5.  The fold up dog crate was also $5.  It was a bit grubby but a scrub brush and soap and water made it look like new again.  We used it at the market today.  Luna got a soccer ball and a basket ball $1.  Larry got some great work gloves 50 cents, some tools, and emergency car kit and some packages of screws all for $7.  I got a car dust buster $2 for David to keep his new car clean, and 2 pairs of like new little ballet shoes for $2.  Melissa teaches ballet, and maybe one day will open her own school, and can use them.  I like to plan ahead ;-)


We are planning on having a family reunion at the end of August at a horse show in the Okanagan.
I wish they were living closer, but to look on the bright side, at least they aren't living in England.
Oh, I need to put my sunglasses on again.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Forgotten Post

This post is old news now.  This was our second visit to Oliver this year over the Easter weekend.  I had got the pictures loaded and then for some reason didn't get the post finished.

One day we went on a long hike.  It was in the White Lake area.  We combined two hikes from the previous year.  The first one was when we had Calli, I did a post, Calli Climbs a Mountain, and I posted about the other part too.  When we had Calli we were limited to how far we could go, so this time we continued on from where we had stopped the first time.  We picked a peak to get to the top of, and stopped there for lunch.  





On the way up we had been passed by some old codgers on mountain bikes.  Couldn't believe that they were riding up the trail they were.  They seemed to head off in a different direction to the trail we were following, and then from the top we saw them reappear way down below by that lake that was behind Luna in the video.  Larry was determined to find a way to get down there, and we did, it was quite easy although quite steep.  Down below was where we picked up the trail that we had been on the second time we had hiked in that area.



It was a good hike, and we will go back again and do some more exploring. 

The rest of the time we walked along the dykes.  Nice and flat and open and not often did we meet other people or dogs.  
That is Burrowing Owl winery. 
 Larry is wondering if there is a trail leading straight to it from the dyke.  All that walking makes a man thirsty!




Now I tried to think of a witty caption for this photo, but nothing came to me!
Luna in the middle of a roll.  She is the most 'rolly' dog I have ever known.




A bit 'Wild West' looking



The Road 22 bridge.



The little vegetable garden at Wyndson Cottage.  That's garlic just to the right of centre.  It was planted in November.  I seeded some beets to the right and planted potatoes to the left while we were there.



Evening light hitting the daffodils along the driveway.



I always manage to squeeze a bit of work in, so got a few aprons sewn up.


Even managed a bit of thrifting.  We hit Value Village in Penticton seniors day (30
% off), and got the Keen sandals for Larry for $3.50,  and I got the water bottle belt for the same price. The sandals were hardly worn but some stitching had come undone.  That was an easy fix.   I love it when I can look things up on the computer and see the original price.  The sandals were over $100 and the water bottles were over $40.
A great thrift store find makes my day!