The Garden is Taking Shape

….unlike other years this one is in before July

When I was working our garden sometimes didn’t get planted until the end of June or later. This year, thanks to a burst of energy, my husband was eager to get the seeds and plants in for his vegetable boxes. I’m in charge of the flowers.

The weather has finally shifted and it’s been comfortable enough to work outside in the garden. The soil is no longer swimming in water and is finally dry enough for planting. The family who cuts our grass also seeded it a few weeks ago and it’s looking very lush and healthy. Two evenings this week it’s been warm enough to eat supper on the deck and I’ve been enjoying my morning coffee outside.

Today’s dinner started with this amazing burrata, roasted peaches, prosciutto, tomato and arugula salad.

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The main course was a mussel, shrimp, halibut and chorizo stew.

A Bit of Cleaning, Some Reading, Making Bean Soup and Visiting Friends

….Monday, July 6, 2015

People often wonder what I do at the cottage all day, especially when I’m up here alone. Well there’s lots to do but no pressure as to when I do it. I like that.

Instead of spending two days of solid cleaning when I first open the cottage I like to spread it out and do a little bit every day. I take care of the absolute essentials when I first arrive, like fill up the water barrel, start the fridge, make the bed, uncover the furniture and wipe down all the surfaces that I’ll be using right away.

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On subsequent days, I’ve washed all the dishes, even though they were clean when I left in October, wiped out the cupboards and restocked them and organized my clothes and put them back into the dresser. All of this is necessary because at some point in the months when we’re away a few rodents manage to find their way into the cottage, looking for warmth, food and shelter. Unfortunately for some of them they don’t survive and I usually find a few carcasses lying about and of course evidence that they’ve been around. Luckily this year the evidence has been minimal and a few of them had drowned in a bucket of water that was inside the cottage.

One of my goals this summer is to finish reading the books that I started this year and then didn’t finish before I picked up another to read. I’m happy to report that I’ve finished two of them and am concurrently reading two more. I also started a new book and I finished that as well. I think I will report on those books in a future post.

Another goal is to do a little bit of art everyday or at least a couple of times a week. I completed one art assignment this week and I started sketching in my art journal. Another goal well on it’s way!

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I didn’t bring up a lot of food on this visit but enough to get me through the week. When I was cleaning out the cupboards I noticed that I had left a container of dried beans here over the winter. I decided to make soup from scratch. I turned on the side burner on the BBQ and cooked onions, celery and carrots in a large soup pot. I added a chopped clove of garlic and then 4 cups of broth, 2 cups of water, a tin of diced tomatoes and 1 cup of dried beans. I added salt and pepper to taste and then I let it cook for 2 hours. After the two hours I looked in the fridge to see what else I could add and I found some chick peas, cooked hamburger and fresh mushrooms. I chopped up the burgers and the mushrooms and added everything to the pot. I let it cook for a few more minutes and dinner was ready. I grated in some fresh parmesan cheese. Delicious!

Of course I had way more soup than I could eat so I put the rest into container and froze it for future meals and I kept some in the fridge for another dinner this week.

While I was cooking I got a phone call from a friend who has a cottage four roads over from mine. She invited me to come to her place for a chat, a glass of wine and to see the finished renovations on her cottage. The soup had pretty much finished cooking, so I turned it off and walked over (1500 steps). The cottage looked fantastic and since we hadn’t seen each other since January we had a nice long gab and got caught up on each other’s lives.

When I finally left it was going on 8:00 and I ended up having a late dinner. The nice part was that it was already cooked, I just had to reheat it. Even though it was getting dark I ventured down to the beach for one last walk and just managed to get in my 10,000 steps for the day. I did decide though that leaving my walk for that late wasn’t the best decision because the mosquitoes also come out at that time. Note to self, walk before the sun sets.

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So that’s my day in a nutshell. Everyday I read a little, do art a little, cook, clean and visit friends, either in person or on the phone. I hope all of you enjoy your days as much as I do. Cheers!

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Harvesting the Garden

….we’ve had a bumper crop of lettuce this year but today we picked beans, peas, zucchini and jalapeno peppers

As I was weeding the garden this morning I noticed that the purple beans and the sugar peas were ready to pick. Looking at the garden the night before I didn’t notice anything hanging from the pole vines but in the light of the morning sun they stood out like a sore thumb. photo-31

We’ve been keeping a close eye on the zucchini and picked three the night before and one more this evening. The jalapeño peppers were also ripe for picking. photo-32

Three of the four vegetables made it into our stir fry tonight (will save the jalapeño for another time) and to our surprise the purple beans turned a dark bright green. Everything was so fresh and delicious.

Fruits of my Labour

….overhanging branches of sour cherries netted me 5 jars of jam

Thanks to my neighbour’s sour cherry tree I was able to pick enough cherries that were hanging over onto to our side of the hedge to make jam. I’d never really noticed the tree before, probably because I would have been at the cottage when the cherries are ready to pick. This year I’ve been home more than normal because of a family situation.

I knew the cherries were ready to pick because the neighbourhood squirrel was feasting on them a couple of days ago.

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I found an easy recipe in the cookbook, Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan.

Sour Cherry Jam

6 cups of pitted and crushed (I left mine whole) sour cherries, 3 cups of sugar and 1 packet of liquid pectin (3oz/85ml)

Combine the cherries and sugar in a large pot and boil for at least 20 minutes. Add the pectin and boil for another 5 minutes.

Ladle into hot, clean canning jars. Apply the lids and rings and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

The jam is a bit loose but it jells up more when it’s refrigerated. Delicious.

Thanks Nancy. Your jar is on its way.

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A Day of Reading and Quiet Reflection

…..my road to recovery has been painless

After icing my jaw all day long yesterday I was happy not to have to do that today. There was little to no swelling this morning so I guess the ice paid off. I started the morning with a delicious peach mango smoothie that my husband made for me and for lunch I had some creamed soup and leftover mashed cauliflower with an egg mixed in for some protein. Both meals were somewhat satisfying and I wasn’t as hungry today as I was yesterday.

One of the benefits of staying home and having restrictions as to what I’m allowed to do is that I was able to get a lot of reading done. I’m all caught up with my emails and I’ve finally started a new book, Road Ends, by Mary Lawson which I’m about a third of the way into. I’ve also been able to research some great art sites for ideas for upcoming art classes at school.

We also got some good news today. My husband went for his quarterly check-up at the hospital this morning and his blood count is still in the normal range. It’s always a little stressful for my husband on those days coming up to his appointments.

Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge – Pleasure

Knowing that we don’t have to worry about the return of my husband’s cancer for at least another three to six months brings us both a great deal of pleasure.

Pleasure is Nature’s test, her sign of approval. When man is happy, he is in harmony with himself and with his environment…..Oscar Wilde

As we get older we appreciate the simpler things in life. Here are a few things that give us pleasure:

For more quotes and photographs about pleasure check out Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge.