I’m back!

It’s been awhile!  So much has gone on in the last little while, I’ve had a hard time keeping up.  Some of the biggies:  my two oldest children have graduated high school and are now starting their adult lives.  Exciting, scary, and so many other emotions over that.  So now I’ve just got my little man at home, and wow, is it ever weird only having one child to look after.  I haven’t lived that since I was 23, so it’s taking some serious getting used to.  But it is also giving me more opportunities to work on other things, like my business, my canning hobby, and then adding new things.  So here is what I’m up to.

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Gingerbread Pu’erh tea.

I have started my new career as a tea match maker.  I’m a Group Director with Steeped Tea, so I help match people with the perfect tea for them.  It’s been over a year and a half now, and it’s phenomenal.  I love my job, I love the people I get to connect with, and I can’t live without the tea.  It’s been such a great year with the company that I actually earned a trip to Hawaii (!!!!!)  So this has been an amazing decision for me and my family.  I am so very grateful for it.

 

I am also so very grateful for the opportunity to go to Orange County California to become a Master Food Preserver.  Since nothing like this exists in Canada that I can find, it was an unbelievable chance of a lifetime.  I can’t say enough about how incredible the team at the Master Food Preservers/Master Gardeners program at the University of California, Irvine campus, are.  Truly above and beyond.  Cinda, who not only spent a week teaching us but welcomed us into her home with her family, is likely one of the loveliest people I’ve ever been blessed to meet.  I’ll do a whole post just on this experience because it was AMAZING.   I have now gone down the rabbit hole of fermenting and dehydrating as well.

Yep.  My husband thinks our fridge now looks like a science experiment and that I’ve turned our house into a lab.  But it’s all pretty tasty.  I’ve got kombucha, ginger beer, and sauerkraut fermenting and I’ve got the dehydrater going pretty much every day.  Everything from chanterelles, fruit leather, and dog treats.  Love, love, love it.  I have so many jars in my pantry right now full of tiny dehydrated things.  Like, did you know you can fit 20 stalks of rhubarb into a pint jar when dehydrated?  It’s true!

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I’ve also been going pretty hard core with a lot of projects for a long time, so I’m learning to step back and look after myself.  That’s a hard one!  You’d think it would be easy to care for yourself.  But for me, not so much.  So this is a real learning experience.  And one I struggle with every day.  I’m getting back into a daily yoga practice and walking every day, just to have a few moments alone with myself and my thoughts.  I’d love to hear what works for you to feel relaxed, centred and healthy.

Is it winter already?

Well, I think it’s safe to say that summer got away from me.  I started doing one farmers market on Saturdays for fun, but that Imagequickly became one on Sunday as well.  Add in a very busy few months doing political media relations, and kiss any “free” time goodbye.  I ended up being that person with a smartphone attached to her hand, which has never happened before.  So many of my carefully laid gardening plans went awry because of it.  Ahhh, another learning experience!  But I did get a lot of things done.  And some new experiences.  Like pickled scapes.  

ImageThese lovely little fellows were given to me by a local farmer, otherwise known as The Pumpkin Lady.  If you’ve never seen them before, they are the green shoot from garlic, kind of like a green onion.  I ended up making several pints of pickles scapes, and they were a hit at the market.

ImageThey joined things like strawberry margarita jam, cranberry orange marmalade, chipotle ketchup and cranberry mustard on my shelves.  I also steeped some in some white balsamic vinegar, which was amazing.  It smelled so good, and looked pretty in the little jars I put it in.  

Another one of my new adventures was beekeeping.  I’m really new to it and have a lot to learn, but my friend Brett, who brought me the hive, was terrific in helping me out.

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Because it’s the first year for the hive, we wanted to leave the bees lots of honey to help them get through the winter.  So after we inspected the hive and made sure the queen was well and laying her eggs, we took out one frame for honey collection and left the rest.

ImageBut without any equipment, like an extractor, how to get the honey off the frame?  Eventually, we suspended the frame over a foil pan to catch it as it dripped out after uncapping the wax with a hot serrated knife.

ImageIt took awhile, but eventually we got as much honey as we could from the frame and then put the frame outside on top of the hive to allow the bees to clean off the rest.  One frame gave us three beautiful pints of honey.  Really, the best agricultural bang for your buck and your time.  I’m looking at making a top bar hive over the winter and trying to establish a new colony using natural (no chemicals or antibiotic) techniques next spring.  And looking forward to a lot more honey next summer.

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So much more to do and plan for.  Today looks like a great day to fill the woodbox, wash some floors, make some yogurt and have a hot supper waiting for my husband and the kids.  Maybe make some cheddar cheese scones for supper?