Saturday, September 5, 2015

Making Chalkboards

I have a new obsession.  I have been making chalkboards.

I keep my eyes open at the thrift store or garage sales for cheap picture frames.  Like these;

I bought these at a garage sale for $0.25 each.  Then I take them apart and clean them up a bit.  Next I spray paint the frame itself.  For these I chose white and light blue.

Then I make the chalkboard by spray painting the glass that comes with the frame.  I use spray-on black chalkboard spray.

You can see my spray paint area.  I use an old oven rack over newspaper.  It will take 2 or 3 coats to get the right coverage on the chalkboard.  Then I just put it all back together and have a great chalkboard.

The can of chalkboard spray paint only costs $7.00 and I have made 6 chalkboards so far, with lots left in the can.

I'm trying to find other items to experiment on. Such as an old wooden cutting board. I'll just have to keep my eyes open.

This post is linked up to;  The Dedicated House  I Gotta Create  Blooming Homestead  The Idea Room  I Should Be Mopping the Floor  Making it in the Mountains

Friday, September 4, 2015

Canning Peaches with Honey

I was fortunate enough to have some yummy BC peaches delivered to me this year.  I haven't canned peaches in a couple of years and was excited to add these to our pantry again.

Instead of using the traditional syrup method, I used honey as the sweetener. My neighbour told me this is how she cans her peaches and I remember seeing her year old peaches in her pantry.  They still looked delicious.

The recipe is;

Per pint;
1 Tbsp honey
packed peaches
hot water to fill

Then process in a hot water bath. I think I did mine for 15 mins.

Because I rarely have ice in the freezer to use in the ice bath, I used a couple of ice packs in cold water. They worked great!

I saved the skins and pits to make Jalapeno Peach Jelly again.  We all love it on bagels with cream cheese. SO GOOD.  You can find the recipe here.  I just put the skins and pits in the freezer until I have time to deal with them.

Thanks for visiting!

This post is linked up to;  Stoney Acres   Happy and Blessed Home

Friday, July 31, 2015

Why and How I Pollinate Our Pumpkin and Squash Plants

Our pumpkin patch is doing OK this year.  Some of the plants are so far behind, but I'm hoping they start to set fruit soon.

When I tell people I pollinate our pumpkin and squash plants by hand, they look at me like I'm talking a foreign language.  They tell me they never knew anything about squash pollination.

First, I'll you the reasons why I do this. Then I will show you how I do it.

Reason No. 1 -  I can't trust the bees to do it for me.  Have you ever noticed a squash or pumpkin get to be about 2 inches big, then shrivel up and fall off the vine?  That is because it wasn't pollinated.  We really don't have that many bees here and we have so many pumpkin plants that I don't think they can keep up.

Reason No. 2 - I don't want cross pollination on our heritage varieties.  For us, this really only applies to our zucchini and acorn squash right now.  All of our pumpkins are hybrids, so it doesn't matter for them.  When you have cross pollination, the seeds won't grow the same exact plant you got the seeds from.  I save our zucchini and acorn squash seeds and want to know what I'm planting.

Those are the the 2 most important reasons.  Now on to the technique.

First, I get outside in the morning, before it gets too hot.  The flowers only are open in the morning and I don't want to miss them.

Then I look for the female flowers.

You know it's a female flower, because it has a little fruit at the base of it.  They also usually grow along the bottom vines.
Here is the centre of the female flower.

Then, I look for a male flower.

The male has the long stamen in it with the pollen all along it.
I break the male flower off, leaving some of the stem.  Then I tear off all the petals, leaving just the stamen.  Then I rub the stamen all inside the female flower.

And that should do it.  All squash plants work the same way.

Although I go out every morning, I still don't see every female flower.  When I really start looking, I have found a few pumpkins that never got pollinated and have fallen off the vine.  I have also found a couple big pumpkins that the bees got to before me and I didn't even know they were growing.  I love it when the vines start to die and I find quite a few pumpkins that were sneakily growing with no one knowing.

Thanks for stopping by!

This post is linked up to;  The Homesteading Hippy  Raising Homemakers  Little Family Adventure
Pieced Pastimes

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Berry Patch - Deep Mulch

I am so leery of even blogging about this. It seems every time I do blog about something I am trying, it turns out in failure.  The idea of this seems good to me though and maybe some of you have some experience you can share with us as well.

I have been able to get a lot of wood chips from a very nice neighbour of ours. They have a deal with the tree clipping company to drop their tree mulch off at their house.  So, I wanted to mulch our berry patch very deeply to keep weeds at bay.

You can't tell, but the plants at the bottom of the above picture are blueberries and rhubarb.  There is a row of raspberries at the top.

Before I shoveled all the mulch out there, I laid down folded cardboard boxes and then topped those with about 4 inches of mulch.  I left 4 holes in between each row of fruit to plant all our squash plants. All the fruit are new transplants,so I knew there would still be room in between them for the squash.

Here are some pictures from today;

The rhubarb has grown, but the blueberries are still the same size.  The squash plants are doing very well in the holes I left for them.  I really like having them there, because it frees up space in our garden.  The raspberries at the top of the picture are bearing some fruit now.

I grabbed this headboard from the dump the other day and am using it for a support for some of our blackberries.
So far it is really easy to pull any weeds that grow through the mulch and I like how neat and tidy it looks.  Other than the blueberries, all the plants are thriving and there is so much moisture under the wood chips.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Unknown Local Attraction

Well, unknown to us.

We have discovered an outdoor gem today.  We have lived in this area for 9 years and only heard about Discovery Canyon in Red Deer, Alberta last year.  Our neighbour told us there is an outdoor man made, but quite natural, water "slide" with a little pool at the end only 45 minutes from our house.  And the great thing about it, is it's free!

I had to look it up online, because I really knew nothing about it.  It looked awesome on the Internet and we made plans with our neighbour to go today.  We got there at 11 am and were the first people there. It was cloudy all morning and cleared up right when we got there.  It was great for about 45 minutes, having the whole place to ourselves.

The kids had so much fun going down the slide all day.  I only wish we knew of it a few years ago.

Here are some pictures;

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Stampede Time Again

We always look forward to our local stampede.  There are so many activities to take in and we love the exciting atmosphere.

This year, Rebekah and I actually worked at the stampede grounds cleaning in the bucking shoots and infield where all the action is at.  We had a blast! We worked together as a team and I so enjoyed out time together. She is so awesome and I just enjoy her company so much.

Here are some pictures of our time;

Our stampede always starts with a parade and this is our church's float advertising our upcoming VBS.

This was such a cute mini horse!

While we were cleaning in the back field, the chuck wagon races were going on. It was so exciting to be this close!

Part of our job was collecting all water bottles and cans. We noticed lots down in the bucking shoots and Rebekah was brave enough to go in there and get them all.

There was always time to make new friends.

Larry's parents were with us during stampede as well. We absolutely cherished our time with them. We were so grateful they were still able to make the 13 hour journey in their motor home, pulling their van.

That wraps up stampede week here. Now it's back to weeding!

Monday, May 25, 2015

No Bake THM Chocolate Cookies - A Revised Recipe

Since I started Trim Healthy Mama a year and a half ago, I haven't found too many desserts I like.
I adapted my favorite sponge cake to THM and you can find the recipe here.  But, I wanted something easy and quick for summer snacking.  I know there is a recipe out there for these no bake cookies, but because I didn't have heavy cream on hand, I changed it a bit.  Here is my recipe;

1/4 c butter
2 TBSP cocoa powder
1/4 c water
1/2 c xylitol
2 Tbsp whey protein powder

Mix together in a saucepan and bring to a boil for one minute. Then add;

1/4 c natural peanut butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 c oats
1 c coconut

I used a 2 Tbsp cookie scoop to make into cookies and placed them on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Then place in refrigerator until chilled.  I made 16 cookies.  Adding the coconut, I think, makes it more an S than just oatmeal like the original recipe I found.  I did a rough check on the carbs and think there is about 3.5 net carbs per cookie. So that would make 2 a serving.