Mmmm... homemade strawberry jam! I made four batches (about 15 jars) today after Dad brought over a huge bunch of strawberries from his garden. It's freezer jam, which I like better than regular jam because it tastes more like berries and less like sugar. I think I'll make some more before the end of strawberry season, since we ran out mid-way through the winter last year. It's so much better than store jam - no comparison.
...plant! It's called something like 'thumbergina' but that's not it. I bought it the other night at Dayton Fruit and Vegetable, and it didn't have the tag in it. I thought I could remember the name, but nope. Anyway, I LOVE it! I planted it in a pot I had and made the trellis-y thing from an old raspberry cane (I have found many uses for them - I suppose the thorny ones wouldn't be so useful). I think it looks fabulous, and I can't wait for it to start growing up the frame!
A couple almost-past-their-prime blooms on my Nellie Moser clematis. I had to cut down all of the old growth last fall, and I wasn't sure if this was the type of clematis that liked that, but it seems to have thrived. I've already seen more blooms than all of last season.
Some yummy poppy goodness. I adore poppies and don't have any in our yard - I picked this one at our friend's house and have enjoyed it immensely.
All since Wednesday, our green onions, carrots, and especially pumpkins have made great progress. It seems to me that some of our lettuce sprouts have gone missing, but that could be as much due to the torrential rain as to the deer.
This is our tiny veg garden in the foreground at The Shire. Katie's much larger garden is in the background, and their herb garden is on the left. Tim, Katie, and Jimmy have been gracious enough to let us try out veg gardening on their land, using organic seeds and soil. The high-quality fence, constructed by A&S Graham landscaping (i.e. Adam and I) is made from raspberry canes and jute, and those are little bars of very stinky soap which Annie and I made hanging around it, which will hopefully keep the deer away from our freshly sprouted lettuce. We've also planted green onions, carrots, and pumpkins. Mmmm. We'll be checking on it tomorrow, so hopefully things will still be intact!
What a difference a day makes! The same peony as last night. There is nothing more calming than standing in the garden and knowing that things are growing, regardless of what you do.
One of our peonies has opened, three weeks earlier than last year. Also currently open are weigela (also pictured), snowball trees, and some kind of phlox-y type things. Lovely!
These irises (we used to call them 'snakeflowers' when I was a kid) are open in wet and swampy spots everywhere - I was surprised to see so many of them at the edge of where the beach meets land.
We saw the funniest family of geese last night on our way to the beach, where Adam had constructed this rock sculpture (It's on a wood frame-y thing he found on the beach). The tide wasn't in when he built it, and it was very cool to watch as the water slowly came in and eventually it collapsed.
The "futon room" (formerly "compter room") and bathroom in their new state of painted-ness. It looks much, much better. The oh-so-cool mirror in the bathroom (sorry about the flash reflection) is another thing I found at the same yard sale where I got the coal scuttle I posted about a couple of weeks ago. The computer is now in Ad's office (formerly known as "futon room" :)).
I went out with a friend from the office and her very cute and well-behaved daughter this morning (it's a perfect and beautiful day here), and we hit several yard sales. It was a lot of fun, and I found exactly what I was looking for - something to store our wood in for our new wood stove! For $5.00, I got this fabulous trunk, which is more than cool enough to be in our dining room holding said wood. I also found a brand new kid's toboggan which I got for $2.50 (I looked online and they sell for at least $70.00... I'm planning on giving it to some friends) and possibly my favourite thing after the trunk - a tea infuser mug! (I'll put pictures in another post.) Handmade; the woman selling it said that a Swedish woman gave it to her. It's beautiful, functional, and the handle is large enough that knuckles won't get burned. I also found a pottery butter dish made by a local potter (which I'm planning to give to a friend who collects), a cat basket / bed thing (we had Virgil's plastic carrier serving the purpose - kind of ugly) a wooden dish rack which I'm going to use to dry my fresh pasta on, a cool candle-y centrepiece-y thing, an aloe vera plant and a couple other little things I can't remember, and all for less than $20! Not bad, not bad at all.
Here's another bee bum, Beth! More bee than bum, really. Our weigela is in full bloom and smalls amazing, especially at night. And throughout the day it's abuzz. A very productive sound.
The grout is on! I like it very much. What a painful, messy, and tedious process to clean the tiles after applying the grout! The little diagrams on the bag make it look so easy. Anyway, it's done, and I'm glad. We're going to get a local millworks place to make a wooden edging thing to finish it off... the only thing that will make it look better is the stove!
One of my students attended a placement at the APSEA centre last week to learn how to use the Braille Note MPower (pictured above), a computerized braille notetaker. She can now braille documents, assignments, etc into the device, save the documents, edit them, and print them in print or emboss in braille (this part hasn't been perfected yet - the device is new and the tech people at APSEA are working on getting a working connection between it and an embosser). This device is perfect in class, for example, when students are asked to work on an in-class assignment. She can do her part in braille, print it in print (there's a Bluetooth printer connection) and hand it in to the teacher at the same time as other students. It has a voice output that speaks the menus (the menus are like in any word processing program) which can be used with headphones or turned off. There is also a refreshable braille display where the menus can be read and documents can be previewed and edited. This student's BrailleNote is the MPower version, and it also has an FM radio and MP3 player. It has a carrying strap, is light and portable, and in short, it has made school a lot more braille-friendly for this student. Other students are really interested in it too, because it's something new to them, and frankly, it's pretty amazing. Can you tell I'm excited about it?
Also above - picture of this weekend's project. We're now professional tile-layers (well, almost). We ordered a wood stove last week, and rather than pay $380.00 for a pre-made tile base, we decided to make one for much less (about $100.00). Adam did the difficult part of measuring and cutting the plywood base and measuring and cutting the tiles. I did the adhering (the white stuff you see on some of the tiles is just extra adhesive that will be washed off) and tomorrow when that's dry I'll do the edging and the grout. Anyway, we're really excited to have a wood stove so we won't have to burn as much oil, because the heat is so nice, and it will be so cozy. Last week, we finished painting the former computer room (now it's a little den) and downstairs half-bath, which was a huge and messy undertaking. But now it's done and looks a thousand times better. We're definitely making progress inside, and since it's been so rainy for the past two weeks, I don't feel too bad about the garden getting a little out-of hand.
Well, the school year is almost done! It's so funny to see how various classrom teachers deal with it. Some (not too many) are in a panic to get things done - "I don't know if I'll have time to cover the rest of the geometry outcomes!" and most are along the lines of "Well, there's just a couple more weeks... so really, who cares?" I've actually finished most of the goals I set out for my students at the beginning of the year, so that's a good feeling. Now I feel like I have a much better handle on goal writing and what's reasonable for my students, etc. So I'm looking forward to September. But a whole lot of relaxing this summer comes first, (in a Price-is-Right voiceover) "In my new... hammock chaaaaaaiiiiiiiirrrrrrr!"
They were on sale for $14.99 last week at Canadian Tire, so we bought one. Adam's parents bought me an awesome lay-down hammock for a graduation gift, and now Adam and I can both relax in the yard and take turns napping and reading. Once we have it up, I'll be sure to post pictures.
Annie and I made a perfect batch of Gingersnap soap the other night - it smells kind of like chai tea and lathers very nicely... another favourite we'll definitely make again. I also made some peppermint moisturizing oil with jojoba and sweet almond oils. I haven't tried it yet on my face, but it's lovely on the hands. On my way home from Halifax last week, I stopped at Planet Organic (guess what? it's an organic grocery store) and bought our groceries for the week. I bought some frozen hormone-free, pesticide-free, free range ground beef that was amazing in chili. It smells and tastes a bit different from the box store stuff - very good. I also bought Down East laundry detergent (environmentally pleasant, unscented, and made in Dartmouth, NS!) It's pretty good (also available at Sobeys in the natural foods section) - I'm not decided if I prefer that or Simply Clean (which is available at the Superstore) as far as cleaning goes. I feel better about buying Down East because it's made here, and it's actually cheaper than Simply Clean. I also bought Seventh Generation dish detergent, which I haven't tried yet, and an assortment of salsa, pasta sauce, onions, garlic, blah blah. The organic stuff definitely tastes better, is better because pesticides aren't used on the land, but fresh stuff is more perishable so most foods need to be purchased in smaller quantities and used fairly quickly (which only makes sense). We're also eating onions and rhubarb from our garden (I made your rhubarb custard pie recipe yesterday, Roxanne!) which is lovely and very tasty. Mmmmmmmm. It feels very good to be consciously making better choices about the things I'm using and buying regularly.