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Friday, July 12, 2013

This week . . .

It's been another busy week around the homestead.

My husband repaired one of the deck chairs, and now I'm putting primer on it. I'll put a couple of coats of white paint on it over the weekend. Previously, these chairs and matching bench were painted in an oil-based paint. If you are going to use a water-based paint over an oil-based one, you need to give the previous finish a good sanding. I failed to sand the other white chair and bench thoroughly enough last summer, and now have some areas of peeling. I'll need to sand down those spots and repaint. Lesson learned.

I filled a large garden pot for the entry patio, with some summer annuals, clearance perennials and a beautiful fountain grass, all in autumn tones. Yep! I'm thinking autumn already. I have this pesky problem of thinking ahead to the next season constantly. My pot will be beautifully rich in color when the leaves on the birch overhead turn golden.

I've started more basil, cilantro, dill and beets in the garden, to extend the harvest of those four. My garden is doing splendidly, for the most part. The plants are loving this heat. I have about 5 tiny pumpkins, so far, and about a dozen small tomatoes, with the promise of many more. My chard and kale are huge! And lettuce continues to provide us with daily salads.

You already know that I brandied some cherries earlier this week. I've also been dehydrating cherries to use this winter in baked goods and granola. I buy about 2 pounds of dried cherries during winter and spring. Drying some now will save me the expense of buying dried cherries at a premium, later. And today, I am hoping to make some cherry jam. This has been on my must-try list for several years -- think Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves. Yum, I can practically taste it already!

My sourdough starter has been very active this month. I ran out of yeast for homemade bread, so I fired up the starter. I've been using it for the family's bread and pizza crusts. My series of posts from last summer, on making sourdough starter has gotten some interest in the last week. Just an FYI, for anyone curious about making their own sourdough starter, summer is the best time of year to get one started. Most house temps are ideal for getting the activity going.

My daughters made a batch of graham crackers one day. This is a summer ritual for them. A couple of times per summer, they make homemade graham crackers, following the recipe I tore off the side of the brown sugar box, 23 years ago, or so.

But bigger news about my girls -- my two daughters got jobs!! Yay! Really, it's been a lot of hard work applying, interviews, making the rounds of all the places where they've dropped resumes, and finally, almost a month into summer, they've landed jobs on campus at their university. This is their first real paid employment. They'll be able to earn enough this summer to help with tuition costs next year, and have pocket money throughout the school year. We celebrated with a trip to the fabric/craft store and lunch out. My favorite lunch place is a nice little Greek restaurant.

With the warmer temps, my capris that I made from old jeans last summer, have been a wardrobe staple. I am happy to say that I look much more pulled together in summer than I ever do in winter, for casual-around-the-house-wear.

Summer allergies have been terrible here this year. I spent the better part of one day this week giving the bedrooms a thorough dusting, vacuuming and cleaning. I pulled furniture out from the walls, so I could dust/vacuum behind. I tore beds apart, vacuuming under, washing everything but the pillows. (The pillows I ran through the dryer on HIGH for 25 minutes, to kill off dust mites.) I vacuumed mattresses. It was a major undertaking, but in the end, I think it paid off. I actually had a decent night's sleep for the first time in weeks, due to not sneezing and wheezing all night long. I find that if I keep the house immaculately free of dust-mites during peak hay fever season, I fare much, much better.

And in the not-at-all-interesting department, I spent yesterday afternoon getting all caught up on budgeting, bill-paying, account reconciling and correspondence. When I finished, I made myself a great cup of decaf, to reward myself for sticking to it all for several hours.

So, my week has been filled with busy days. With my daughters now off to work each day, I am hoping to tackle a couple of projects in the next two weeks.

And how has your week been?


  1. Great news on the campus jobs! They'll be in the know about the campus by the time school starts!

    All is well here. We are back from vacation and getting back into daily living mode.

    1. Hi Jen,
      I've been thinking the same thing, that my daughters will be very familiar with the campus come fall.

      Looking forward to reading all about your vacation!

  2. Congrats to your girls for the jobs :) I had trouble finding a job after I finished school as well, since I was already 18. But once I found one I stayed in it for six years, so it worked well. What are they doing?

    My week has been fairly productive - I've been researching car insurance and am in the middle of doing my tax return (which really just involves clicking "No" half a hundred times and them giving me all my money back).

    1. Hi Economies,
      The job search was surprisingly difficult. I remember just walking into a restaurant, asking for a job and being hired within a few days. One job my daughters both applied for had over 120 applicants. This was just part time work at a smoothie shop. Too many looking for work, too few jobs.

      They're working in housekeeping. Yesterday was their first day on the job. One daughter was cleaning residence hall rooms, the other was on a crew cleaning one of the commercial kitchens. They were both amazed at how dirty/messy/careless people can be.

      Good luck finding a favorable quote on insurance. In the US, that can vary considerably. That's something I need to do again soon. Ugh!

  3. Congrats to your daughters, all our kids are now employed (much easier in job rich Alberta). The two younger kids are still in highschool - one as a cook in a rib restaurant and my 15 year old stepdaughter (who looks much older) got a job as a cashier in my old favorite grocery store which is great since she is vegetarian and sincerely did not want to be working in a fast food restaurant. I have been admiring the neighbors cherry tree. You are so lucky!

    1. Hi Cheapchick,
      How great that all your kids have jobs. I didn't realize that Alberta was experiencing a boom right now. All the experts say that the economy is really doing well here in the US, but the jobs for teens still aren't there.

      My daughters would have taken a fast food job, but even McDonalds had a backlog of applicants. So much nicer for them to be working on campus, anyways. The pay is better, the hours all weekday hours, and they can get to know the campus. Plus the housekeeping department there does nice things for the employees, like today (and every Friday) they're having a BBQ at lunch for the student employees.

      You'll have to consider adding a cherry tree, when planning re-landscaping. But in the meantime, the farm stands here have had good prices on cherries this past week. Your area may have the same about now.

  4. Life is always busy, isn't it?

    I was wondering how things were going with your food sensitivities. Have you made any headway on figuring them out?

    It's finally getting warm here. It's been a cold and rainy summer, for the most part. So I'm not ready to think about fall yet! :)

    1. Hi Kris,
      I've narrowed down food allergies/sensitivities to just a few ingredients/foods, which is really nice. And I have found that I can tolerate small amounts of some foods. But I still just feel best if I eat plain, simple, wholesome ingredients. And summer is a great time for that, with all the wonderful produce. Thanks for asking.

      I think we've had the warmth that you normally get, and you had our rainfall. It's been hot, little rain, but very muggy, here for most of summer. The garden loves it. I hope your summery weather is here to stay for a while.

  5. Speaking of running out of yeast, I lost a large jar of it. I bought a big jar at Costco when I was all inspired to make a lot of bread. Later I realized that I had more than I could use, so I put it in the freezer I thought and offered to share it with a couple of other people. When I went to the freezer to get it out to use it the other day, I couldn't find it. After I lot of searching, I surmised that I must have given it away. However, I don't remember that. Oh well. I bought some more.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      You had a moment like I seem to have more and more, remembering something differently than what actually happened. I was looking for my packets of lettuce seeds today, to plant some late summer lettuce. I checked my 3 containers of seeds that i keep in the fridge, several times, and couldn't find any of the 3 packets of seeds that I was sure I had. I was certain that I only have 3 containers (peanut butter jars) of seeds. Then it occurred to me, "what if I'm wrong? what if I actually have 4 containers of seeds?" Sure enough, there was a 4th peanut butter jar of seeds in the fridge, including my packets of lettuce. I just don't understand how I could remember something "false".

      At least for you, you can feel good that you probably gave the yeast to someone who would use it. That should help make up for not remembering, right?!

  6. Everything sounds full-tilt productive; I hope you are enjoying the summer, too!

    1. Hi anexacting,
      I've been rather busy, but I've had several things to take care of that couldn't be put off too much longer. Hopefully in the next week I'll find a spot of down time.

      I hope you are enjoying your summer!


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