August, 2012 browsing by month


Cutest things

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Last week, we had a hatch of baby horned lizards (aka horned toads). There must have been 15 or 20 of them all over the driveway.

Flash flood

Friday, August 24th, 2012

We’ve continued to have good rains here. Yesterday, we had a hard rain here in the early afternoon. We were planning to go to Douglas in the evening and saw some amazing thunderstorms on the way down.

Then we reached this.

I think this is what a flash flood looks like. This is a place between us and Douglas. I’d never seen water in this wash before this. There was another place that had a newly formed lake several acres big where a road used to be. Fortunately, it wasn’t the road we were driving on.

2nd try

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Now, this is jelly!

bread with prickly pear jelly

Not all roses

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

I usually write about all the great things that happen here. For those of you who think everything here goes seamlessly though, here are some not so great things that happened here this week:

  • None of my jelly gelled. (The best advice I read on this was to relabel it all “syrup.”)
  • I painted a whole bunch of timbers with the wrong finish.
  • Turtles started eating our cucumbers.

None of this is life shattering, and stuff like this happens here all the time. I just thought I’d share it so you all don’t think we live in the land of magic wonderfulness. :)

Success is not the most common outcome of trying new things.

The most beautiful color

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

With a few rounds of canning under our belts, we thought we’d try something new and make prickly pear jelly. (Great thanks to my friend Brenda, who not only introduced us to this delicious jelly, but taught us this amazing juicing technique.)

We were up in Portal this week and saw that the prickly pears were perfectly ripe for picking. (There is a short window for this. Not long after they are ripe, the birds and bugs devour them. Having our own small prickly pear in the yard helped us gauge this this year.)

We picked about a half 5-gallon bucket of the fruit, which are called tunas. (For future reference, 2-1/2 gallons of tunas made about 3-1/2 quarts of juice.)

After rinsing the tunas, the next step is to load them into steam juicer. Note that I didn’t say anything about removing the stickers or seeds. That’s the beauty of a steam juicer. It has three parts. A pan of water at the bottom. A giant pot and a steamer basket that sits inside of that. The steam forces the juice out of the fruit (and into a little rubber tube that goes into your collecting vessel), leaving all the yucky part behind in the basket.

Cover and boil for awhile and then out comes the juice!

This is what’s left when you’re done. Great for composting.

The next part of the process is the whole canning thing. Boil the jars, fill, seal and boil again, etc. (How did people do this before the Internet? :)

The jelly is made with the juice, pectin, and sugar. For one batch, I also stewed some jalapenos in the juice. We’ll have to see how that comes out. (If you haven’t had jalapeno jelly with cream cheese, it is fabulous!)

Finally, into the jars.

Here’s the final product.


Life here

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

As we emptied a 20 pound sack of flour into a storage container this morning, I found myself reflecting on how life has changed for me since we’ve been here (close to four years now).

First, I spend a lot more time outside now, especially in the garden. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but there is always something to do. Watering, planting, harvesting. Here is this morning’s harvest.

There seem to be things growing everywhere inside the house now too, and I am hoping for a fruitful garden into the winter. I am working on broccoli, cauliflower, and sweet potato starts…all good winter crops I’m told.

I drive less and spend much less time in town, doing shopping or other tasks. But when we do go to town, we tend to spend a large portion of the day there.

I spend more time cooking, and we are eating much better. Less processed, pre-prepared, packaged food. More whole foods and things made from scratch. I’m making a lot of bread and weird things I never imagined making like yogurt, cheese, and granola.

I am much more aware of the world around me — what season it is, when the sun sets, what’s blooming, what animals are around, and especially the weather. Whether it might rain is not only entertaining, but it makes an actual difference in life here.

Of course, I’m more physically active and better able to do a variety of things for myself. I’m also creating more — writing, building, making photos and videos.

I’m seeing and talking to fewer people on a day to day basis, but enjoying richer relationships and interactions online.

I seldom wear makeup, fix my hair, or fuss much about my clothes now, even when I go out.

I’m working less (especially paid work), sometimes by choice, sometimes not. I think that’s probably improving my overall quality of life, but sometimes adding stress and uncertainty as well. (I’m working on that.)

Mostly, life has slowed down and become more intentional. I’m defining success and happiness differently, doing fewer things that someone has made me think I “should” do and doing more things that I want to do or that feel good or right.

Something is always in bloom here

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

barrel cactus

This week at the market

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

We sold out of produce at the market this week, selling cucumbers, green beans, watermelons, and some plant starts.

We were also now certified as growers under the Farmers Market Nutrition Program and WIC, enabling us to take vouchers from qualifying low income, elderly, and women with young children.

This is not something I ever imagined doing, but it’s been fun. Also, we’ve heard some interest in produce from our own local community, which is great.

Best of all, we are eating lots of fresh, naturally grown, delicious produce ourselves!

Growing something new

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Several years ago, Brad got some stuff to grow sprouts. But alas, we never got around to it. Until now.

picture of sprouts