Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gardening, Lemons, and This Year's Project

Like my cans? One's bigger than the other, but I still love 'em.

I have been in a gardening frame of mind for weeks now. This wimpy excuse for a winter has left me wet, dreary, and ready for summer. The only problem is, I have almost no space for a garden! The only part of my yard that gets decent sunlight is my small front yard, and I'm thinking our landlord would be less than appreciative if I dug the whole thing up. He mows our lawn. I'm staying on his good side.

Instead, for the last two summers, I have resigned myself to a few pots on my porch. It just doesn't cut the mustard. Potting soil is so irritatingly expensive that it isn't cost effective to have more than a few pots stuffed with just enough vegetables to satisfy my itch. This year, Mama's not satisfied. My measly container garden never fully calms my craving for dirty fingernails, the miracle of new life, and providing nourishment for my family. I'm in the process of convincing my mom (who wasn't too interested in a garden as of last month) to team up with me for a little (hehe) gardening. Unbeknownst to her, but very beknownst to me, I have a rather extensive scheme in mind... but we'll see how it goes.

My traditional way of dealing with something I really, really, really want to do, but can't, is to research the subject to death. I have been reading about everything and anything garden related, making notes and printing pages for things I want to do someday. If I can't do, then I can always learn! The only downside is, the more I read, the more I whip myself into a frenzy wanting to DO IT ALL RIGHT NOW! My mom in particular has become rather jaded to my fits of passion, and will usually just nod and smile until I finally give up or get distracted. This is making it rather difficult to get her on board with a garden (on her property, with her tools, and likely with her watering the majority of the time...), but gardening is something she has always loved in quieter years. I'm wearing her down, little by little!

The approximate number of books I've read on gardening and preserving. I rounded up.

Researching about gardening has naturally led me to researching on how to preserve the bountiful harvest I imagine in my mind. I was deep into reading about canning, drying, and fermenting, when I happened to look up and see that organic lemons are on sale this week. Now, I never used to be an organic produce kinda gal, but the more I have studied nutrition, the more I have started to lean away from the standard supermarket fare. Anything closer to natural is where I want to go! But how do I make the most of in-season, pesticide-free lemons? EUREKA! Here is my chance to practice my preserving skills!

The more I think about it, the more I love this idea. Here is an opportunity to develop my preserving skills with a small batch of in-season produce. I couldn't possibly stop at lemons though. There are so many more fruits and vegetables that will be coming into season soon, and so many different methods of preserving them all. I decided that one of my projects this year will be to learn how to preserve everything I can get my hands on, one season at a time.

I started a folder to hold all my collected recipes and tips, but I have no doubt I will eventually have to move it all to a three-ring binder. I'm thinking I will organize it by season or month, instead of by preserving method. After all, you start by deciding what to preserve, before deciding how!

I love making labels, and this is a nifty little label I made for my folder. I printed mine on a label sheet that I have lying around from another failed project. Feel free to right-click and steal this baby, she's free to a good home!

Stay tuned for my lemon preserving fiesta!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chilly February Fun

After the complete lack of wintery weather this year, we finally got some decent snowfall yesterday. It snowed all day long, in those big, fluffly flakes. Just looking out the window brightened my day! Today, by some miracle, the weather stayed cool enough to keep most of the snow on the ground. In our part of the Ohio Valley, the temps typically bounce around so much that any snowfall either disappears or turns to mush within 24 hours. A winter wonderland is a rare treat some years.

If I was an awesome mama I would have bundled up the boys and taken them out for some sledding and snowman building. But I'm not an awesome mama. I'm a mama that hates to be cold. Instead of taking the boys outside, we had some fun with the snow that had piled up on the kitchen windowsill.

This little guy was made with toothpicks and a food marker. Why the food marker? Well because it was right next to the window when I got this silly idea. I think he turned out pretty cute, in fact he's still chillin' like a Batman villain on the windowsill. Maybe we'll make him a buddy tomorrow, once I figure out how to make a cape and cowl out of garlic cloves and parchment paper. Because that's what I have next to my kitchen window.