Sunday, August 30, 2009

pickles and things

I finally took the plunge and bought the water canning equipment I needed to try my hand at canning.  I started with dill pickles - they seemed like one of the easiest things to do.  And they were!  I'm hoping they turn out tasty -- the recipe said to wait a couple of weeks before trying them.
I want to try bread and butter pickles, tomatoes, and tomato sauce, and perhaps some gifts to give away at Christmas time.  Next year I should be able to make cooked jam instead of freezer jam and free up some room in my freezer for other stuff (Charlie said he might take up hunting again if we get deer on our new -hopefully- property).
Here are a couple of photos from an art fair that took place in Frankenmuth a couple weeks ago.  I surprised myself and found the artist below to be my favorite.  Something must be wrong with me to like these fish so much -- my tastes are changing.  They are pretty cool though - don't you think?
This guy was making fire pokers out of iron.  I just like the photo.
And here is a photo from the garden.  I have harvested all of the onions and am putting them by.  I've heard that they can be put into panty hose for storage.  Just put one in, tie a knot, add another one, another knot, etc.  I'm gonna have to try it to see if it really works.
We are busy trying to buy the home that I wrote about on my last blog.  After our offer, their counter offer, our counter to their counter, and finally their counter on that counter offer - we seem to agree on a price for the home.  An additional acre is being added to the deal - so we will have 2.91 acres (that back acre is wooded).  We have to get an inspection now.  Well, actually, the seller has to sign our offer, then we sign and have 10 days for the inspection.  We are hoping everything goes smoothly from here (with the bank, etc).  It will still be a while before we can move in, but if things go smoothly, we are looking at the end of October or November (hopefully before snow flies).
I have to get going today.  We have to do laundry (oh, it will be SO nice to not have to go to the laundromat any more) and go to my sister-in-laws 40th Birthday celebration at their favorite pizza joint.  I am also trying to get together with a friend to see a movie tonight at the old movie theatre in Vassar, MI.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Update on "our house"

So that house we loved -- we withdrew our offer on it today.  We are disappointed about the whole situation to be quite honest.  I feel that if something is meant to be, all the pieces will fall into place perfectly (or with relative ease - at least).  Things just weren't working out.  We were having issues getting the seller to disclose information about the septic drain field.  This past Saturday, we got together with our realtor to discuss things and look at 3 more homes.  One stuck out to us - we like it so much that we put an offer on it.  
Let's take a tour... first is the living room.  Gorgeous bay window, like-new carpet...

leads into the kitchen.  The pantry shown here is my favorite part of the home...
There are some very "retro" looking things about the home.  It was built in 1977 and has the original stove and fridge (also, one of the bedrooms has the original carpet/wall paper - but is still in good shape).  Actual, the whole home is in amazing condition and is immaculately clean.
The basement is dry and unfinished.  It has a lot of potential.
The home is a ranch, newer roof, attached garage.  The soil is sandy and only has pine trees and birch trees.  I was planning to have raised garden beds anyway...
This is a three car garage which would give us an incredible amount of storage space...
And here is a view of the backyard (the front yard is very similar - it slopes down toward the road).  The lot is 2 acres and is surrounded by woods.  The little building could be used as a chicken coop, but it needs some help as it is (has a large hole in the roof).  
We are excited about it.  Mainly, we'd like to finish the search for the perfect home.  Just like the other house we put an offer on, there are things that need to be done here -- but nothing needs to be done before we move in.  This home just needs updating when it comes to decor.  The other home needed carpet torn out, basement dried out and sealed, over haul of the barn, window replacements, etc.  
We feel really good about this one.  Hopefully everything works out -- and I'm sure it will if this is meant to be.  

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Garden Huckleberry

This year I tried something new in my garden so I thought I'd share what I have learned about the "garden huckleberry" or wonderberry (Solanum melanocerasum, syn S. nigrum guineense).  It actually isn't a true huckleberry, rather it is an annual in the nightshade family (think tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, etc).  I started the seeds indoors in the Spring, and they were one of my hardiest transplants into the garden.  Currently I have 3 huge plants in the garden - each could bear hundreds of small fruit.  One of the websites I looked at for more info said they can grow up to 2 feet tall, but mine are going crazy and are 4 feet tall!  
The fruit isn't edible until the berries turn to a dull purple.  I have some that are shiny purple right now.  I've read that it is just a matter of a week or two and these shiny ones will be dull.  I've also read that the berries' flavor will improve if left on the plant until after the first frost.  The pulp inside should turn from green to purple as well.  
The berries need to be sweetened with sugar, but make excellent pies and jams (from what I've read).  I'm going to attempt a jam.  If I fail, I'm not out anything... these seeds were given to me by Burgess Seed co. as a free bonus with my order (perhaps to make up for the dead  paw paw and blueberry plants they shipped to me -- I will not be ordering from them again).  
Overall, it has been fun to grow the garden huckleberry.  I will keep you updated on what I do with the fruit.  

Friday, August 14, 2009

color/black and white

Thought I'd share a couple of photos -- two that are very colorful, and one more along the black and white theme.  First, a close up of a sunflower.  Second, the field of gladiolas (gorgeous!).  Third, the baby kitty must feel at home with the two little statues.  They make a cute grouping.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunrise, sunset

Things have been busy lately and I'm afraid I have fallen behind on my blogging.  I apologize to anyone who noticed (I'm not sure how many actually read this blog - I don't get very many comments).
Charlie and I have been busy trying to buy the house that I told you about.  We placed an offer, they countered, we countered back and they signed the agreement.  Everything sounds great, right?  Well, actually, the whole offer hinges on whether or not the seller can provide us with info on where the septic drain field is at.  At one time the seller sold off most of the acreage to a farmer -- and we are afraid that the drain field is on that property.  The seller seems to think it doesn't matter -- but it could cause huge problems.  We are hoping things work out, and that maybe they ran the septic to the front or back yard.  Keep your fingers crossed for us.
Outside of trying to buy a home, I have been working a lot still.  Last week was another 58 hour week (today is my only day off to take care of laundry, bills, etc.).  The paycheck should be nice, but once again my summer is just flying by.
My garden is getting out of control again.  I did really well with weeding earlier this summer, but in just one week it has gotten away from me.  The tomato plants are HUGE but still no ripe tomatoes.  I grew garden huckleberry this year and had no idea how big those plants would get.  I'll try to blog more about them later - they are interesting.  Oh, and my zucchini are going crazy!  I keep giving them away but they keep putting out more.
Anyway, this is a photo I took one morning before work...

And this one was an experiment to see if my camera could capture a lightning bug at sunset.  It worked, but I would have liked a longer exposure to catch more of them on the same image.
I am hoping that the next time I post a blog, the seller of our dream home will have good news for us (if he can figure out where to get the info about the drain field - it seems pretty easy to me).  I have next Friday off and that would be a perfect time to have inspections done.  I'm praying for a miracle here -- feel free to send out a prayer for us as well - we will take all the help we can get.