Farewell Fall

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Ahhh, ’tis the season of snowblowers, ice scrapers and wood stoves. We had our first snow storm of the season overnight, and with it, our first snow day for my littlest man.  He was thrilled!  My husband, less so when he had to pull out the snowblower before heading to work.  But the day has gotten quite warm and a lot of it is melting off.  We have another 25 cms forecast for tonight.  Such is the life in New Brunswick.  Fall has been lovely, but I guess it’s time for us to move on.

I’ve gotten some of my canning projects completed over the fall, but not nearly as many as usual.  I seem to have lost steam this year with a number of things, not quite sure why.  But the basics are in the pantry, which makes me feel better about the cold coming.  I’ve got pot roast in a jar, chicken broth, vegetable soup, meatballs, baked beans and more pressured canned and put away.  I’ve also been working on my dehydrated stock, and it’s coming along.  I’m actually out of tomato powder (it’s amazing!!) so I’ll need to make some more.  The pickled beans turned out extra good this year, oh my Lord, why didn’t I make double?  I have no idea (probably because I was already over run with them and many other thing).  Walking past my canning shelves does make me happy.  I’ve got to make some jelly and a few other things for Christmas, but it’s coming along and my shelves are getting fuller.

The tea business has been booming, which is awesome!!  I’ve had three fantastic months sales wise (say hello to the fourth highest sales in Canada 2 months in a row 🙂  and hoping to keep the momentum up over the holidays and into the new year.  My trip to Hawaii is in early January, so I want to make sure I’ve got a thriving business to come back to.  With December starting, I’m sure to be busy the first two weeks, and then quiet for the last two.  My daughter will be home for a few days over Christmas, so I’ll be glad to have some quiet time with my husband and kids.  There have been a few vendor events over the last few months, and they’ve been super fun.  I love getting out and meeting new people.

Now, time to make some supper, close a party and make a batch of tequila pepper jelly.  The fun never stops.  Thank goodness, what would I do otherwise?

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Kombucha Crazy

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So, I’ve become a bit of an addict.  A kombucha addict.  Who knew some fermented tea would make a girl so happy?  But it does.  And I’m too cheap to buy it.  A friend told me someone at the market in Shediac was selling it for $20 a bottle.  Ummm…yeah, I’ll make my own, thanks.  My friend Stacy gifted me a scoby and some starter tea back in February and I’ve been brewing ever since.  I’ve experimented with a few things and now I’ve got it down to what I like.

IMG_20160619_113522Generally, I like to start with a plain black tea, so I’ve been using a strongly brewed English Breakfast for the most part, and I let mine ferment for about 10 or so days.  Once it hits the 14 day mark, I find it’s getting a bit too vinegar-y for my taste.  So I strain, bottle and drink like crazy.  I don’t always do a second ferment, because it’s pretty good all by it’s lonesome, but add in some strawberries or flavoured tea and let sit for a few days and bam!  Fruity deliciousness.  And fizzy, fruity deliciousness at that.  If kombucha brewing is up your alley and you want to find out more, check out http://www.kombuchakamp.com or http://www.culturesforhealth.com.  Those are great resources.  I’ve also joined a couple of kombucha brewing groups on Facebook, and they’ve been a great source of inspiration.

Since I’ve started my kombucha addiction, I’ve had a lot of friends ask how to get started.  One thing that happens when you brew your own is that you may eventually be over run by extra scobys.  I’m going to be adopting mine out this weekend.  On Sunday, I’ve got some friends coming over to learn how to make their own.  And they all get their own scoby and starter tea to take home.  Awe!  Scoby babies are heading to new kombucha families!

20160530_141318This was the first little scoby I put in here.  The jar is now almost packed solid with them.  My husband says he will be glad to see the “jelly fish” disappear from the pantry cupboard.  But I’m sure it won’t take long for more to take their place.  I may have to do a kombucha how to party every couple of months if my brew keeps going this well.  Today, I’ve got three gallon jars on top of my fridge brewing.  One is English Breakfast black tea, one is Classic Sencha green tea (and the scobys are so white!!!) and the third one is a mix of the two teas.  It will be fun to see what everyone prefers.

Do you brew your own?  I’d love to hear about your experiences!

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Strawberry kombucha

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.

Procrastinating, reporting and knitting

Procrastinating with tea

Procrastinating with tea

It’s Tuesday morning.  I’m on my second cup of tea with a list longer than my arm of things I need to do today.  And I’m going to get there, I really am.  After this cup of tea.  I swear.  If you listen carefully, you’ll  hear the sound of me trying to convince myself.  1.  wrap baskets for delivery   2.  clean up kitchen   3.  bake gingerbread men   4.  deliver baskets   5.  bake more fruitcake   6.  make wine jellies.  7.  make supper   8.  take youngest to curling.  It will be a busy day, but I’d rather be doing this than what some of my friends and former co-workers are up to today.  I used to be a reporter.  About six months ago I gave it up for a variety of reasons.  But sometimes I miss it, and I really enjoyed covering court.  It’s fascinating, both the legal end of it and how it works, and how everyone’s stories are on display.  It’s a place where everyone is vulnerable.  Those vulnerabilities are there for everyone to see, like being naked in front of strangers.   A big trial has just wrapped up in the city and the jury is deliberating, so that means my reporter friends are hanging around the court house, waiting for the verdict.  I’ve always said that broadcasting and reporting was a game of hurry up, wait.  You are usually going full tilt or you’re sitting by the phone like a teenage girl on a Friday night, waiting for it to ring.  The jury began deliberating yesterday, and called it a night around 8.  They’ll be back at it this morning.

Court is hard for those who find themselves in it.  Not just those who are accused of crimes, but those who are on the other side of whatever crime is alleged to have happened.  For families who’s loved one was injured or killed, it’s like they’ve fallen down the rabbit hole.  It’s not like what you see on tv.  What you don’t see is the frustration of families who show up to court only to have their matter adjourned.  They are looking for one thing, and it takes so much longer than they ever anticipate.  Even if the result is what they are hoping for, it never solves everything.  It hardly solves anything.  These people still have to figure out how to pick up the pieces.  Their grief is delayed.  They are grieving all the while, but think that once the matter is resolved through the courts, there will be closure.  There is no such thing.  I’ve always thought that court is full of damaged people.  Not just the accused.  But everyone in it.  We are all damaged by what we hear there, by the process, by what happened to bring us there in the first place.  There is this expectation that court will make it better, that justice will be done, and that life will be fair again.  But it never is.  And justice is often a shade of grey, not black or white.  It’s like victims expect the process to make them whole again, and instead, it takes a piece away from everyone involved.   Like leaves falling off the trees in fall.  So, while my reporter friends are waiting this morning at the court house, I’ll once again go over my list of things to do here and give thanks that I get to keep a little piece of myself this morning.

My current knitting project, a hat for me

My current knitting project, a hat for me

Last night, I stayed up way too late and worked on my knitting.  It’s something I’ve just taken up recently, and so far I’ve made scarves and hats.  I’m practicing ribbing, so I’m making myself a hat.  It’s going to be long and slouchy, at least in theory.  So far, I’ve made a hat for each of my kids and now this one is for myself.  I need it to keep me warm while I wait for my youngest’s bus to arrive each afternoon.  I like knitting in the round, it’s fun.  I’m not good at reading patterns, so all I’m doing with this is knitting five and purling five.  We’ll see how it turns out.  Maybe if I get this list done today I can finish it and work on another one.  Toques for all!  Hey, I’m Canadian.  Toques are mandatory.  😉

The first hat I ever made

The first hat I ever made