Wednesday, November 21, 2012

DIY Homemade Christmas Planters #2

Christmas planters this year were made with fresh materials found in the woods and from my garden all for practically free !   Christmas planters are now for sale at various local grocery stores and I was amazed at the price they are asking - upwards of $50-60 for one small planter.

Cedar, pine boughs and dogwood was collected from the woods and variegated euonymus cuttings came from my garden. I added a red bows that I saved from last year's planters along with some dollar store poinsettias, red balls and gold plant pokes.  The black urn is one that someone put out for garbage earlier in the year.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Becoming an Urban Homesteader Series #12 - Fall Wrap-Up

It's been a busy fall this year.  We spent most of our free time helping daughter/son-in-law move (packing/cleaning/moving/unpacking) and got quite behind in our own yard work.   However, with a couple of nice rain free weekends we're caught up.  It's dark before I get home from work now, so I'm limited to doing any outside work to the weekends.

Red Pepper Jelly - look so pretty with sunlight shining through
Jar toppers for preserves

Hubby cutting up hard wood pallets for winter heating
  • The gardens have been put to bed.
  • Emptied the compost bins into the vegetable garden
  • Raked leaves - what a job that was !  Our Three Norway Maples can produce over 30 leaf bags of leaves.   We mulched quite a bit and saved a number of bags for layering in the compost bin during the winter months, and what ever is left over will be mulch in the flower beds next summer.  Also kept another 6 large dark plastic bags of leaves to decompose over the winter to create some nice compost. 
  • Indoor gardening begins with sprouting - broccoli, kale, lentils and mung beans, which go great in salads and sandwiches. 
  • Made a triple batch of red pepper jelly.   Ladies at work have been asking if I was going to be making any preserves to sell this year.  In previous years I made quite a variety of preserves for selling to help with my daughters' university costs.    This year have made Bread & Butter Pickles, Green Tomato Chutney and Red Pepper Jelly to sell. 
  • Changed my design on my jar toppers for decorating my preserve jars.
  • Cooked up pumpkin, pureed and froze in one cup portion sizes for later use in muffins, bread and soup.
  • Made Rose Hip Jelly from wild rose hips found while hiking. 
  • Picked the remainder of the Kale in my vegetable garden - and dehydrated for use in soups, sauces and casseroles for the winter.
  • I took a hike leaders training course through Hike Ontario and am now an official certified hike leader. 
  • Hubby has been collecting free wood as he sees it and been cutting up for our wood stove to supplement our winter heating.   Discarded hardwood pallets make great long lasting fires.
  • My knitting/crochet needles have been working hard and have made a number of dish cloths, baby blankets, scarves, etc.
Wood stacked in the garage for winter heating

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Simple Pumpkin

Some things I've learned about Pumpkins: 

1)  Pumpkins are native to North America
2)  Pumpkins are traditionally cooked at Thanksgiving time ie pumpkin pie
3)  Pumpkins are carved and decorated for Halloween
4)  Pumpkins are a squash like fruit and grow anywhere from 1 lb to hundreds of pounds
5)  Pumpkins grow  in different sizes/shapes and textures
6)  Pumpkins are rich in anti-oxidants and vitamins such as : vitamin A, C, E, leutin, xanthin, and carotenes.  Also a good source of B-Complex and rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus
6)  Pumpkins are versatile in cooking and most parts are edible, ie the fleshy part of the shell, the seeds, leaves and the flowers.
7)  Pumpkins can be baked, boiled, steamed, mashed, roasted and used in a variety of recipes from main courses to desserts

With one pumpkin this year I: 
1)  Cut up and baked until soft.   
2)  Scooped the fleshy part and pureed.
3)  Froze the puree in 1 cup portion sizes for later use :  for muffins, soup, pie, bread.
4)  Separated the seed, cleaned and baked/roasted with favourite spices ie turmeric/garlic/salt/pepper/coconut oil for snacks.

Cut up and ready for baking

Puree in food processor after baked

One cup size portions of pumpkin puree ready for the freezer
Pumpkin seed ready for roasting

Roasted pumpkin seed ready for snacking

Friday, November 2, 2012

Counted Cross Stitch

I enjoy hand needlework/knitting/crocheting etc. and prefer it from sewing from a machine.   I do have a sewing machine and it has been used a great deal.   However, since I don't have a sewing room/table where I can leave the machine out, it doesn't get used as often unless I have a specific larger project I am working on.  Getting out the machine from the basement, setting it up, sometimes is just not worth the effort for small projects.  

Therefore, I much prefer hand work, where I can work on my creative projects and still be with the family in the evenings.   I can also take my projects with me wherever I go and work on them, ie waiting in the doctors office, on trips or whenever I have a few extra minutes.

These two pieces were cross stitched while my babies napped many years ago.   They are "counted cross-stitched" - my first projects without the pattern stamped on the cloth.  I much prefer now to do the counted cross stitch as it gives a much nicer finished piece.


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