Back In The Saddle

I haven’t been writing as much as I should, and for that I apologize.  I’ve had so much on my plate…and on my mind, that it sort of slipped a little.  But I think after a wonderful long weekend of fun, I’m ready to take the reins again!  (Literally)

I was so glad for five o’clock Friday to arrive.  Not only because I knew there were three glorious sunny days ahead of me, but because last week was not my best week.  We were short staffed at work (doubly so on Friday), and so the work load was heavy, and it seemed like one problem after the other.  I love my job.  I didn’t love last week.

So Saturday was the start of some much needed R&R.

An afternoon of lunch and shopping with my BFF, then Fifty Shades of Ooh La La!, followed by a little bit of liquid fun  (Swedish Berry Martinis and Porn Star shots, oh my!!!)  Finished it off yesterday morning with more shopping at our favorite spot, and our traditional tea stop (to cleanse out the demons of the night before hahaha!)

Today is our holiday Monday – Family Day.  We’re not really doing anything as a family, but it’s so lovely to have an extra day off, especially when the weather is so fricken gorgeous!!  I swear Mother Nature is mercilessly teasing us with all this sunshine and mild weather.  I’m just waiting for her “Ha-ha” moment.

Woke up early this morning – not sure why, because I planned on sleeping in!  I must be getting old because I was up before eight AM!

I used to go riding every week, sometimes a couple of times a week.  But I haven’t since the summer.  Life has a nasty habit of getting in the way of the things we love sometimes, doesn’t it?  Well, this morning I went to visit my four-legged 1500 lb. friends…and my two-legged friends as well!  I thought it would be a nice visit – but didn’t expect to get back in the saddle.

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As soon as I stepped out of the car and the beautiful smell of horse (horse people will know what I mean) hit my nose, tears came to my eyes.  So when a ride was suggested, of course I didn’t say no!  Not only did I get back in the saddle after six months, but also experienced my first lope!  It was a little bit scary…and a lot exhilarating!

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A bite for Reese…a bite for me…another bite for Reese.  She’s so good at sharing her carrots! 🙂

I didn’t want to leave the barn, but I knew I couldn’t stay there all day.  Plus, there’s no washroom and I really had to pee!  So I came home, and took Sherman out for a stroll.  I just can’t get enough of being outdoors when the weather is like this!  So Spring-like!

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Then came home again, added the mushrooms to hubby’s roast (the house smells like what I imagine heaven would smell like right now!)…I think I might still be a little bit stuck on Mr. Grey…

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And last but not least, a bit of outdoor work!  With almost all of the snow once again melted (temporarily I assume), I took advantage and raked some more leaves and pine needles to toss on my slowly growing compost pile.  Then came back in and checked on my Baby Orchard…so thrilled, I’ve got EIGHT viable seedlings!!!

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So that’s my weekend!  What did you do this long weekend…if you had one?  I know it’s President’s Day in the US today, but I’m not about to start talking politics on here.  So what kind of fun (or trouble) did you get into??? 🙂

Sunday Do-Da-Day

Today was a do-day.  Since yesterday ended up being rather less-than-ideal for reasons I won’t go into, I wanted today to be a productive day.

It started with my alarm waking me up at 1:00 AM so that I could pick up my daughter from work.  “I’ll be done at 1:30.” she’d told me.  I got there at 1:27…and waited until 2:23. Sigh.

But my bed embraced me like a lover when I got home, and I stayed there until about 9:30. When I woke up, it was to a veritable Winter Wonderland!  Big fat beautiful snowflakes were falling slowly, making it feel as if we were in a snow globe..and it seemed they had been doing so all night!  About 6 or 7 inches I would say, and it was still coming down.

I know many places have been completely pummeled by Father Winter in the last few days, and our measly half-foot is probably laughable to a lot of people.  But we had about a centimeter on the ground before last night, so a beautiful picture to wake up to this morning!

I think workouts that aren’t an actual ‘workout’ are the best ones.  Good old fashioned hard work in the great outdoors.  Shoveling heavy snow has to be one of the best in my opinion.

Before I joined hubby outside to shovel, I put a big pot of homemade vegetable broth on the stove.  It’s my first attempt at it, and I’m proud of the outcome!  I see lots of soup in our future!

Now that I know how easy this is, my freezer will never be without lots of this stuff.  You can do so much with it!!

Everything went in – from the bunch of celery that had long ago seen it’s prime and was laying rather…um…unmanly…in the bottom of the crisper, to ends and peels from the carrots, parsnips and turnips I chopped up as part of the week’s food prep – even dried up rosemary sprigs and the stems from a bunch of parsley!  When we walked in after an hour of hauling snow, the house smelled yummy!

I’ve got about a dozen freezer bags now filled with either broth or chopped veggies ready for the slow-cooker as this week’s meals!  One of the main topics of our last family meeting was being better organized for meal-time.  We’re now deciding the meals we’ll be eating for the week ahead on the weekend, and I’m prepping as much as I can ahead of time so make things easier during the week!  Tomorrow…Beef Stew!  …and of course something vegetarian for my daughter.

Tonight it was just hubby and I for dinner, so I made us some homemade poutine with some vegetarian gravy my co-worker gave me with strict instructions to give him my absolute honest opinion.  …I’ll be asking for his recipe tomorrow!  Went a little bit rebel-child with the cheese, mixing it up with some sharp yellow Cheddar and some jalapeno Havarti.

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Oh, and can’t forget my little surprise this morning when I checked oh my baby orchard!!  They are all popped!!  All nine of them!!  I’m so fricken excited!!!! 🙂  I can’t wait until they start looking like little baby trees!

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So now it’s nearly 11:00 PM on Sunday night, my feet ache for being on them all day, and I don’t want to go to bed because as soon as I do the weekend is over!

Hope you all had a good weekend, and wishing everyone a good week ahead!  And for those especially in the areas that have been and are still getting hit with insane amounts of snow, please stay safe!
*** UPDATE ***

Apple trees aren’t ALL doing as well as I thought.  While 1 and 2 are doing great, already showing off their first set of real leaves, 3 seems to have popped only to die.  4 and 5 are still showing potential, while 6, 7, 8 and 9 I’m afraid might be stunted but the next couple of days will tell.

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Baby Orchard

A few weeks ago, I got it in my head to try and sprout apple seeds!  This isn’t just a whim, it’s all part of my plan to prepare for the off-grid days we’re working towards.  In wanting to be as self-sufficient as possible, I’m looking at what we’re eating now and how we can produce those things for ourselves.

Apples are a staple in this house, and I really hate buying them from the grocery store, in plastic bags, not knowing how long and far they’ve traveled to get to my fruit basket.  Not knowing what germs, pesticides and other chemicals coat their skins.  It’s really not a green practice.  So having our own fruit trees is really important to me.  There will be other fruits as well – pears, plums, maybe apricots – but I’m starting with apples!

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I started by saving nine beautiful black seeds from a Granny Smith apple, cleaning them, scoring them gently, and dropping them in a glass of water.  I had to change the water quite often because it kept turning a rusty color.  But a few weeks later, I’ve got these cute little sprouts!  All nine sprouted, and I’m so excited!!

I know this is probably not the method expert growers would use, but I’m no expert.  They say “There’s more than one way to skin a cat”…well personally I hate that saying…who the hell skins cats anyway??  But I say, there’s more than one way to sprout a seed. 🙂  They kind of look like little sperms, which I guess is kind of fitting…

I didn’t want to leave them like this in water for too long.  I don’t know if it would have harmed them, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.  My afternoon project (which took all of 10 minutes) today, was to start my little baby orchard.  A quick trip to town and I had all of my supplies…pots and trays from the dollar store, and my Timmies.

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My method isn’t complicated.  Fill 3″ pots with potting soil, poke a hole with my finger, drop in a sprouted seed, cover with soil, and spray with water.  TA-DA!

I chose to pray water instead of pouring water because I’ve noticed in the past that when I do that, it creates holes in the soil.  It may not be a problem…may just be that I’ve got a slight case of OCD…either way, this is how I did it.

I don’t know if I did it right, or if they’ll even grow.  But I’m hoping they will!  The plan is to grow them in pots while we’re living here.  I know it’ll be a few years before they’re even big enough to be anything but a pretty little tree, but that works for me because I don’t want to put them in the ground until we have our own land.

Then I can decide what type of apples I want to graft onto them.  I have to admit, I kind of want to make trees that will produce a variety of apples.  If all nine seeds make it to trees, it’ll be the beginning of a beautiful, and hopefully bountiful, fruit orchard!

And in another step ahead, I plan on keeping all of my fruit trees pruned to a height no taller than 5 feet tall.  This is to ensure than when we grow older, and aches and pains start creeping in, we’ll still be able to easily harvest our own fruit.  No ladders or step stools needed!

Apples on the table

Do you have any fruit trees on your homestead?  How do you keep them healthy and producing year after year?  All advice and recommendations are invited!!

A Little Green

Hi friends!  This post is a little different than all of my other posts.  Basically, it’s a personal note directed at all of you who follow me, and hopefully those who will follow me in the future.

As most of you already know, I’m currently in the learning and growing stages of becoming a full-fledged homesteader.  I’ve mentioned a few times, how I eventually would love for my ‘job’ to simply be a homesteader.  But for that to happen, I need to find and create new streams of income that won’t involve the typical nine to five.

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Hence, this post.

It’s just a little bit of a heads-up to those who regularly read my posts (And THANK YOU, by the way!).  You might start seeing a few ads on my posts in the near future.  I’m in the process of pro-and-con-ing through lists of ways to create income from blogging.

I want to say sorry now if this irritates or frustrates anyone, and I sincerely hope it won’t stop you from visiting!!  I’ll be testing the e-waters as to what works for me, and what doesn’t.

My traffic isn’t high enough to make any sort of significant difference in my bank account at the moment, but I’m hoping that in the next few years, this might change.

I would love your feedback on this, as well as your opinion on posts that do have ads or affiliate links.  I’m hoping to get started with a few in the next week or so!

Thoughts???

Garden by Design ~8~

I love cooking with fresh herbs, but for some reason whenever I get those little pots of herbs from the grocery store, I can never manage to keep them alive for more than a couple of weeks.  I’m hoping that after caring for multiple herbs and vegetables this summer, I’ll be more adept at keeping them.

I love many different herbs, but one of my favorites has be to thyme.  It’s so fragrant and flavorful, and so pretty to look at!

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In doing a little bit of research for this post, I learned that there are over 400 different varieties of thyme.  Kind of blows my mind.  Makes me feel like a bit of a thyme rookie – I’ve only ever had the regular thyme you get at the supermarket, and lemon thyme which I did manage to grow one year.  But with so many varieties, well…you can just have thyme after thyme!  Okay, corny.  Sorry.  But seriously, don’t you want to try them all?  I do!!

Now, you may not know this (I didn’t until just now), but thyme is also an unsung superhero in the world of herbs.  Besides adding tons of flavor to your favorite dishes, it also has amazing health properties.

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We’re talking some pretty serious super powers here.

Feeling a little blue?  Have some thyme!  It contains carvacrol which is known to be a natural mood enhancer! (Also found in oregano)  It also has some tumor fighting kick-ass toughness, so that’s something to be happy about as well, especially if there’s a history of cancer in our family.  And lets face it…we sort of all have a history of cancer in our families these days.

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Been a bit under the weather?  Maybe a little thyme can help!  This stuff is pretty potent and will gladly assist you in giving your sore throat a run for its money. Its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties are tough enough to even kick your bronchitis to the curb! Talk about fighting power!

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What really made me take notice however, is that it apparently also has the ability to prevent food poisoning by being a natural preservative and prevent the growth of bacteria on your food (meats).  An herb that can make my chicken taste wonderful, and keep the nasties away?  Sign me up!!

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I plan on growing enough of this herb to have plenty of it fresh all summer, as well as drying a bunch to last me through the long cold months.  It seems there’s nothing this little butt-kicker can’t do!

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What’s on YOUR spice rack?