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I'm a Canadian now residing in Sunny Arizona since 2002. Although I've been a city girl all of my life, I've always loved the country and the laid back life it offers. My love of the Outdoors, Animals,and Gardening comes from my mom Cecile, who loved her home in the country, but sadly passed away in 2005. I promised her I would grow a garden in her name, And I finally did, five years later. One of my best memories of her is how much she loved her garden. The glow on her face when she would show me something new, always creating a life with things she loved. She loved all animals. She taught me simplicity, to enjoy the small things, and see beauty in everything. Today I find myself doing the same things she did in her garden and in life. This blog was created to keep track of my projects and adventures. They may not all be successes, but my goal is to remain unintimidated by whatever engages my curiosity. I want to share this adventure with those who can appreciate the small things, the trial and errors, the simplicity in it all, but mostly,what my mom knew how to do best,just have FUN! *This blog is dedicated to her*

Dec 21, 2010

My Christmas Meaning

Today I can't help but think what matters most. Seems like this year flew right by. I get nostalgic during this time.
I'm missing my loved ones.
We didn't grow up in a religious environment. And I truly believe that Christmas can be celebrated without Religion.
I don't need religious convictions to enjoy the holiday season
For me, this time is a celebration of family,sharing,charity,and good will toward men. 
But really it's something we should All believe in, All year.
Today is the fist day of winter,

Dec 16, 2010

Holiday Family Time

Although this year I am unable to spend Christmas with my whole family, I am so happy that my sister and nephew will be flying in on Christmas Day from Montreal to visit with me for one week  :)
I am excited to decorate and prep my home to make their stay enjoyable and comfortable.
My Christmas tree is beautiful, it makes the biggest difference in my living room. I look forward each evening to turn on all the decorative lights! It's so Festive!
I am really excited about spending some time with them. We always have a lot of fun together.
I am hoping we will get to do a bunch of fun stuff, visit a few places and spend quality time.
The weather has been fabulous here, and hoping it won't cool down too much.
This will be the first time my family will see my home. I worked so hard to make it cozy and welcoming.
We will have our Christmas dinner on the 27th.
What I especially hope is that time won't fly by, but as always with my family, it usually does.

Dec 13, 2010

Doggie Treat Bake Day!

For the last several years around this time I make and bake dozens of dog treats. This year I was in the company of some great friends. Lots more fun in the company of other dog lovers. We got creative and silly, all while listening to some Christmas music, which made it more festive.
My dogs were hanging around smelling and waiting patiently, flour must have been flying everywhere since my little one ended up having flour all over her snout. It was a good time.
I imagine the cookies turned out good since the dogs all approved  :)

Dec 6, 2010

Biscuits à Jam

That's what we call them back home, or Thumb Print Cookies as they call it here.
I remember my grandma making these when I was young. I've always wanted to make these but just now decided to finally try it. What a treat! these are so good! Perfect for this time of year too.
I chose Strawberry preserves to fill. YUMMY!

Nov 30, 2010

Baby Bird

There's something rewarding about saving a baby bird.
This little guy flew in my window, but luckily no major damage was done but he was a little shaken. I took him inside and placed him in my fleece vest pocket for a little while to keep him warm. Then I brought him outside and opened up my hand and he sat there for a few seconds then bounced up and flew away.  :)  He did turn to me at first as if thanking me...  :) At least that's what I'd like to think.
This little guy is Arizona's State bird, the Cactus Wren  :)

Frosty is Coming to Town

Tonight will be the coldest yet, frost warnings throughout the valley, and plenty of snow up north just a few towns away.

Later today I will cover up my fragile veggies with blankets and sheets.I am concerned mostly about my chickens but I am told if they have shelter, they should be fine. I have noticed that they do huddle together and when they sit they cover their feet and hide their heads underneath their wings.

Nov 29, 2010

A Great Find!

Found me a nice long vintage couch at a yard sale. Very comfortable and sits nicely on my back patio. I love the fact that I can split it too.

Eventfull Long Weekend

I love the fact that I got everything done that I set out to do and more over the long weekend. I now have a fresh coat of paint in my kitchen, and managed to paint the concrete floors in the bedrooms too (while I wait to replace it with wood flooring) Looks much more attractive. That's on top of my regular household chores.

But I wasn't expecting to deal with my dog's bad luck. My old Fat Guy who is about 15 had what I think could be a mild stroke last week, partially paralizing his hind legs. I didn't want to rush to the vet instead, keep him comfortable in his own home with pain medicine and I carefully observed him.
Thankfully he got better within 2 days. I have no clue what happened or why, but at his age with arthritis and his obesity I can expect some issues.
And just as he seems like he had found his youth again he decided to catch a bee....and eat it! :(  his jaw swelled up quickly and within a half hour he had a severe allergic reaction to the bee sting which caused him to tremble and yelp. His eyes were changing, I thought he was going into seizures and die in my arms.
He kept digging his head into my side, as if demanding comfort. Poor old guy, I felt helpless until I remembered to give him allergy medicine and sure enough, within an hour he was fast asleep. He looked much more comfortable.
He woke up refreshed with a wagging tail. He also got his huge appetite back.
I guess I can be thankfull that this happened while I had the opportunity to spend time with him.
My hens were cackling up a storm too, the loudest they've ever been! I'm beginning to think that one of them thinks she's a rooster. But ohhhh what good eggs they deliver.
Yep, Eventfull 4 day weekend.

Nov 23, 2010


The cold has settled in. It was a long warm season this year, now getting into the beat of this crispness will take some time but I've been ready.
I brought out my winter blankets and warm clothes a few weeks back. I do love putting on my warm fleece jacket when I get out early in the morning to visit my garden and chickens  :)
The dogs enjoy this weather too, they run around the yard and play lots more. The hens also seem perkier. But that may be because they have started laying  :D
We got some rain yesterday and filled up my rain barrels once more :)
I am looking forward to a 4 day weekend for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Nov 15, 2010

My First Egg!

Finally after much anticipation! I was thinking my hens were defective or something.
Late morning yesterday I was in for a big surprise. I feel so lucky I was there to witness it.
My poor hen sounded like she was screaming as if being tortured, I ran to the pen and saw her flying out of the coop poor thing, she must have been wondering what was happening to her!

I hurried to the coop and saw the prettiest little beige egg sitting there all alone!  :)  I was so excited I was yelling "I got an Egg!" several times...
I know the neighbors heard me.
I picked it up and snapped a quick picture before bringing it indoors.
This little egg was healthy with a strong shell. And it was yummy too!
Here's to the start of my egg collecting!
This hen just laid another one this afternoon :)  I knew she was prepping because she was nesting in the coop looking quite uncomfortable just a little earlier.

Nov 9, 2010

About the Chickens

Well another lesson learned. Looks like the hens weren't getting enough sunlight, which is the reason they haven't started laying yet. The days are shorter, therefore I will need to place artificial lighting at least 2 hours before they go to bed.
I found out they need 16 hours of daylight, so I removed the bamboo shading and all this light is coming in the pen, they seem so much happier now since they can see the whole back yard  :)
Now lets see some eggs!

Nov 5, 2010

I Miss You Mom

Mom I love you and thank you for all you did for me
and I hope someday I make you proud for whatever comes to be
Wish you were here, I miss you so much
no one even knows what I would give for just one touch
Mom, I miss you so very much, especially today

Nov 2, 2010

Being Thankfull

We didn't do Thanksgiving growing up. We've always been thankful for being able to make time to be together, any time of year.

I give thanks daily for what I have. I am greatful for my wonderful family and all the little blessings that surround me.

Oct 22, 2010

Where's the Ghoulish Spirit?

Seems like Halloween has faded with the years.
When I was little, I remember Halloween being such a huge deal.

It was such an exciting time back then, with decorations everywhere, carved pumpkins by each doorstep, tons of kids were all over the streets with one of a kind costumes and the candy was the real deal.

Where's the creativity these days? The costumes today are just plain horrible! not to mention expensive.
Little girls look like (?!!!^%$#) and boys, whatever new action figure that just hit the theaters.
Where are the Witches,Pirates,Princesses,Draculas,and Ghosts?

I noticed older kids come to my door, some taller than me! and they come back for more! you don't see carved pumpkins much anymore, and if you forgot to bring your pumpkin indoors you will find it smashed to pieces all over the street the next morning :(

Kids are not allowed to wear costumes in school,and trick-or-treaters go to organized events more than door to door.
What happened? Have people become too paranoid?
Aren't parents ruining the fun for their kids?
Ok, we'd hear stories of tampered candy but it never stopped us from trick or treating! Our parents verified all our bags, today parents steal all the good candy!

Maybe I've lost my Ghoulish Spirit this year,maybe the overpowering Christmas Decorations in all stores has turned me off completely...

This year, I decided to leave everything in my Halloween Bin.
There won't be any treats at my doorstep. And No tricks either.
Maybe next year It will be different.

But I will NOT pass up the opportunity to bake some really good pumpkin cookies and roast some yummy seeds :)

I gave in. I did Halloween only because it was for the kids and I started feeling guilty.

Oct 19, 2010

Harvest Festivals

I have one memory that comes to mind around this time. On a crisp autumn morning going to the country to visit my mom and dad. It would take nearly 2 hours from the city; you had to drive through some small towns. I can almost smell the air, with the landscape already displaying fall colors. What a treat to see the rows of pumpkins from the road. I recall one place we'd stop at, An outdoor market full of fresh produce.
On special occasions we'd get mom flowers, and during the holidays a fresh cut Christmas tree.
There was also a fair we could go to, go visit the horses and other farm animals, sit on a pic-nic table and have a snack to eat.
I miss those days, and I miss the simplicity of it all.
You could meet the farmers and have a sample of their baked goods.
By the apple orchards you could help yourself to a bag of freshly picked apples and leave your money in a box.

The Harvest Festivals here just aren't the same, thousands of miles away.

Oct 13, 2010

Dried Sweet Basil

I love the smell of Basil :) Basil has done very well in my garden. I was a little sad to snip the stems but it was time. Parts of it had started to flower.
I cleaned them and laid them out to dry under a cloth. Its been several days now, and this morning it is ready to crumble.
Dried Basil, great for sauces, mixed with olive oil and Pesto! Yummy!

Oct 12, 2010

Heat Be Gone

Well this is the perfect weather! The heat has gone now and the veggie garden has come to life! My Lettuce and Endive look perky and happy. The extended heat wave and damaging winds with hail wilted everything a while back, and I was worried about losing them. But this morning It felt good to see everything bouncing back. Gets my day started in the right mood :)

Oct 7, 2010

Loving October

It's October now, some heavy rains and hail have come through the Valley in the last 2 days and did lots of damage. The bamboo covering in my garden has caved in due to the heavy hail, the baby veggies, flattened. The yard, flooded. There are pine cones and branches everywhere. What a mess! The chickens ran for cover poor things, they're lucky to have a nice place to keep dry.

Just as I was feeling a relief from the heat this had to happen :( My concern was my veggies mostly, but it's not as bad as it first looked. Hopefully they will recover, while the rest of the place dries up. I'm very happy about the rain though, my rain barrels over flooded :)

The dogs were definitely excited about running in the mud and bringing it all over the house....

Well at least there was no Major damage and all ended with a beautiful double rainbow :)

Oct 4, 2010

Seasonal Changes

It's looking like we are done with the triple digits, some relief at last! this will surely help in the garden. I have beans, tomatoes, corn, carrots, broccoli and brussel sprouts that will soon be ready for transplant. This weekend I prepped the garden beds and formed mounds. I am beginning to think that my veggies are doing better in containers, I am almost afraid to move them in their new home :( The last transplant didn't work. Crossing my fingers and toes here...

Sep 30, 2010

My favorite Herb

Or at least one of my favorites :)
Summer Savory!
I just LOVE that smell! it gives everything so much flavor :)
It's so peppery and pungant.
I already ran out of it so I ordered more seeds and recieved them today!

Sep 27, 2010

End of Summer Compost

This year has been the hottest summer on record. Im so glad it's over. I'm Looking forward to spending more time outdoors in the garden. One good thing about this blazing heat is the result of my composted materials in the tumbler.
All the kitchen waste, plant clippings, newspaper, and chicken droppings gave me this wonderful dirt :D
I spread it all over my young vegetable plants for added nutrients.

Sep 23, 2010

Autumn has Arrived...

Today is the first day of Fall, and I can already feel a slight crispness in the air, Its my favorite season, and mornings are my favorite time of the day. My vegetables seem to have more life too. It's looking more promising in the garden :)
My chickens seem happier, their peeps and chirps have long gone, but their clucking
is a welcoming change. Soon I should have little surprises in their nesting boxes...

Autumn is renewal, it's a time where I reflect on small changes that need to be made. Both in my life and what surrounds me. I get craftier and more physical. This is where I think back at the times we'd go for long walks everyday with our dogs in the park and be in awe of the changing colors of the trees.

My sister, my best friend. I miss her. She has always been there for me, through it all. Although miles keep us apart she is still here, close to my heart. We've been through good and bad together. She has always been my rock. We've shared our secrets, lived together for years before I moved far away. Our dogs were our world, and still are. We have lost some, and cried together.
And today, her loving dog is ill, and will not be there to see the winter.

I hate to spend Autumn alone in this part of the world, knowing a part of me is feeling sadness today, and unable to be there for her. Sometimes renewal is good. Sometimes it is forced upon us. But this year Autumn will not be the same.

Sep 20, 2010

Baby Tomato

Dull Chairs with a New Life

A pair of plastic chairs were tossed in the trash down the street. I brought them home and I decided to paint them in pastel colors. All they need is a colorful matching pillow to be complete :) Now I have chairs to sit on in my garden.

My Pies turned out quite Tasty :)

Sep 16, 2010

Apple Pie Memoreis

Nothing beats the smell of homemade apple pie this time of year. The delightful smell of cinnamon brings back so many memories of my parent's home in the country.

Us siblings would take a drive up there to spend the weekend and make pies all weekend. Mom had lots of apple trees on her property.
There was no recipe, just us sisters and mom playing in the dough and slicing apples for hours...the fun we had, always laughing together.

We would cover all counter space with dozens of pies, enough for all of us to bring several back home. Then we'd bundle up, gather around the bonfire outside and joke all night. I really miss those days.
I miss my mom most around this time.

I haven't made an apple pie since her passing. I am thinking maybe this weekend that I should. And let that aroma take over my kitchen, like it did in hers.

Sep 14, 2010

Another Saved Treasure

It makes my heart smile when I save an old piece that could have been trash and forever gone in some landffill. when I find such timeless treasures I get anxious about getting started because I can see the potential immediately. I have used my sander and various tools on many, many pieces that came through my home, but this chair looks like it will be my most challenging project yet.

I cannot wait to see the stylish result of this piece! I can already see it sitting pretty in my room. :)

Sep 10, 2010

An Escapade worth Blogging about

I am feeling nostalgic...
Last week I visited a very dear person in my life.
A few days away from the arid heat did me tons of good :)
A spontaneous trip to California is exactly what I needed!
The oceanscapes and lush green coastline seemed to have triggered my creativity, something that has been dormant for some time. Hmm maybe it was the ocean air or fog. :D

I am itching to do something productive, other than gardening. I am even thinking about re-arranging this blog, since I have lots more going on than gardening.I want to make it more exciting and creative.

Come Autumn I always get this way, even in the kitchen. I'll take out my sewing machine, restore an old piece of furniture, or paint and redecorate. I've already started sorting my fabrics so I can make something special that reminds me of my trip.

My special friend is such a beautiful soul, thank you Collette, for having me in your wonderful, peaceful home.You inspire me to do and be more!

Aug 26, 2010

Know Your Bugs!

One thing I am learning here in the garden ~ Know your bugs! Some are beneficial, most not. As I tear away at my poor watermelon that has been infested, I can't help but feel hopeless as to how to control this nuisance. I knew I should have planted my potent herbs with them! I never had that problem before when I did. AAARRRGGG!

I fed my chicks some bugs I shouldn't have. They should have stayed right there on my plants to munch away at the bad ones. :( But the chicks didn't complain :D

Oh well... I now have a picture list of good and bad bugs I've seen in my garden, learned a little about them, and keeping a close eye on any new intruder.

Learning lesson indeed!

~although I like to keep track of everything in photos here, I really didn't think it was necessary to take pictures of those nasty things :D

Aug 24, 2010

Seed Starting

OK, this is an exciting time for me! :) I started my seeds from starter trays and various pots and bowls. One very practical way to do this was to make my own pots from newspaper! So easy I wish I'd thought about this earlier. And since the newspaper is biodegradable you can simply transplant it in the ground and it will disintegrate.
I did this with my Fava beans and it worked out perfectly.
Also, I covered some bowls with saran-wrap to promote humidity, helping keep soil moist while seeds sprout, like a mini greenhouse :)

In the last few weeks I've done a lot of tilling and extending my raised beds for my winter crops.
This season I decided on Beans, Peas, Corn, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Lettuce, Endive and Onions. I also want to do some companion planting with herbs, instead of having an Herb-Garden only, I chose to pair herbs with vegetables that are compatible, in order to help the garden thrive and keep pests away.

I watch my pots closely each day waiting to see the first sprout :)

Aug 17, 2010

Prickly Pear Jelly

Making Jelly this week, this time with a special fruit called Cactus Fig, or the Prickly Pear. This time of year you can see them everywhere even along the highways. They grow wild throughout the southwest. A really pretty sight.

This is new to me, I was excited about trying a new type of jelly, so off I went with a bucket and some tongs and kindly asked a neighbor if I can grab some of that really bright red fruit. His front yard is full of that cactus.

Good thing I read about handling and processing them or else I would have ended up with really sore fingers. There's a reason it's called prickly pear cactus!

This was labor intensive, but luckily with my juice extractor I saved some time.
And I am pretty proud of the results! The taste resembles really sweet kiwi fruit.
I think I will be taking my bucket and tongs again this weekend and see if I can make lots more so I can enjoy this jelly when the fruit isn't available. What a waste to let the fruit die off the cactus.

And I will definately bring my neighbor a jar filled with the yummy stuff he kindly let me have.

Aug 13, 2010

Uninvited Guests

Little Green Inch Worms.... or "Cabbage Loopers", a member of the moth family. When I first noticed one inching away on one of my zucchini leaves I thought it was cute so I let it be... mistake! Until I read about them.
They are a pest in my garden! This is the first time I notice intruders on my plants. Quite destructive too. And I had no clue they laid eggs on the underside of the leaves either. Eeeeewwww!
So that made me dissect the whole place, making sure I removed each one of them. There were tons. This morning it really wasn't bad, just found 2 of them. I need to stay on top of this and make sure they don't invade.
Caterpillars feed on tender leaves, causing skeletonization and defoliation. Luckily my plants don't seem too affected by them. One good thing though my chickens think they are quite the treat!
I wonder if I had planted garlic or other natural insect repellents among my crops would it help keep them away? hhmmmm.....something I'll have to try.

Aug 12, 2010

My Pretty Rooster (Before & After)

My dear friend Penny gave me this great gift! A decorative concrete Rooster!
All it needed was a bit of glue and some paint and tada!
I was excited to place my new rooster in the pen but THAT was a big mistake! My poor chickens were terrified!! I can't help but laugh now, if only I had a video of this.
I had to remove it and place it outside the pen, that way it can keep the other little birds away from the chick feeder.

Garden Extension

More work ahead, this is what has been keeping me busy on the weekends.
I can't believe how well my garden is doing, now I want to expand it and surround myself with more fresh garden veggies. My broccoli, Cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts are in my seed starter trays, and will soon be transplanted in their new home.
Now if I can finish these beds before the end of the month I just may plan another short road trip :)

Aug 9, 2010

Road Trip

I've been feeling a little stuck in the house for some time now, Lots getting done at home though, but I thought I could take a short break. I think I actually needed it.
Why not an escapade up north with my dog to visit a friend I haven't seen in a while! I got tired of letting my household duties stop me from going anywhere.

There's something about getting away that just makes things better. A clearer mind, well rested, the sense of freedom when driving on the open road, taking a long walk and catching up with a friend. It was really nice to get away, even for just a day. I hope to go there again in the fall where I can enjoy the autumn colors :)

I'm always in awe of the winding mountain roads and canyons here. I could never get tired of the views. And having the company of my baby girl Sidney made the trip even better. She loves going for drives.

Aug 5, 2010

August Memories

I can't help but think back, every year around this time I get nostalgic. I am a year older...
Back home this time of year meant summer was closing in and school would soon begin. People prepping for the winter months ahead. Evenings were a little cooler. Time to bring out our warm sweaters.

But there's one event that comes to mind. Cornfest!

August is time to celebrate the corn harvest! I remember the huge bags full of corn selling for a couple of dollars by the side the road near the farmers's corn fields.
Local corn filled the supermarkets everywhere.
I could live off that stuff for days :)

Small surrounding towns all have some type of Cornfest. Music, Games,Bonfires, Drinking and having a great time with friends and family. All fun. I really miss that.

Maybe once I get my corn growing I could have my own little cornfest in my yard :)

August is very different in Arizona. It's like an extra month of extreme heat.
I feel like there's only 2 seasons here, summer and fall.
Now I look forward to September and October...

Aug 2, 2010

Baby Pine Tree

A baby pine tree has sprouted near my big pine. :)
I scooped it up and will let it get stronger then I will plant it somewhere in the front yard

Prepping for Fall Gardenning

August is here! my favorite time of year has started!

I have big plans for my garden. I hope to expand it in time to plant all my fall veggies. I will attempt brussel sprouts and broccoli this time. I can't wait to get started!

I had a busy weekend, between making Jam, cleaning the chicken pen & coop, mowing, raking the mess the rain left in the yard on top of household chores...I still made time to turn my garden soil. This is labor intensive but worth the hard work.

It was messy, and it was hot. The soil had become hard and packed in after the rains so I mixed in some organic compost and Steer manure. It was nice and fluffy once all done. Of course there's still more to do but gotta save some for next weekend. This is why I look forward to weekends.

Getting my hands dirty.... :D doesn't get better than that!

"When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, There is always the garden."-- Minnie Aumonier

Rainy Day in the Garden

A moment of Quiet

I like to sit on the rocking chair on the back patio and look at the progress in the yard. This weekend was extra special because it rained :) I love watching the rain.
This week will be one year since I first got the keys to my home.
How time flies
So much has been done, I love my little nest and I LOVE my garden!

Yummy Jams!

What a perfect day to make Jam with a friend!
This would have been a very long Jam session if it weren't for the help.
Thanks Liseanne!
Everything went smoothly, we had a great time, it wasn't as messy as it could have been, and the jams taste awsome!
A few things I could have done differently but all in all I think it was a success!
I think my house will smell like berries for some time...

Jul 30, 2010

A Pond in My Yard

Scary Torrential Rains!

Some sudden heavy downpour came upon us yesterday, nobody expected it to be this intense.
I was at the supermarket checking out when suddenly everyone stopped what they were doing and some even ran to the windows to watch!
The sprinkles had quickly turned into heavy rainfall and the wind made it impossible to even see the parking lot!

It was exciting and scary all at once, the cashier couldn't focus on checking me out, everyone was in awe of this storm. Outside everyone was running for cover, nobody dared to try to make it to their cars. It was blinding you couldn't even see what was ahead a few feet. Few very courageous folks ran out with their grocery bags including myself.

I was pushing the shopping cart so hard you couldn't see its wheels. By the time I was at my vehicle I had water up to my calves. I was drenched and struggling to throw all my bags in the car. Never seen this much rain in my life before!

I cautiously drove out of there, not knowing what was ahead or behind me on the streets. Luckily I live 2 minutes away, I could barely see the stop signs and lights. Cars were driving slow, so much water had accumulated on the street corners it was nearly impossible to drive through there without skidding or having water be thrown over other cars.

At times I was feeling my vehicle wanting to drift off. I sincerely thought at one point that I was being dragged to the other side of the road. Very Scary. But I did make it home safe. several minutes seemed like hours.

My priority was to see if all the dogs and the chickens were ok. Stuff had been thrown around the yard but I couldn't think about the damage right now, my poor chickens haven't seen any rain yet, they were under the coop soaking. I struggled to get under there, I grabbed them and put them in the coop to safety. It was a messy muddy job but it had to be done cause the water had started to flood the I was missing a dog!

He must have gotten scared and hid somewhere, but where? he's 116 pounds and I can't find him!? now I'm in a panic, it's raining too hard to go get my groceries out of the vehicle, I'm drenched running across my house looking for him, while the other dogs are barking because of the thunder and they're running everywhere soaking wet too...ughhh what a nightmare!

Finally I find him inside the garden shed! poor guy squeezed his way through the small opening of the door. He was too scared to even come out! He was fine once he ran in the house with me.

Within a an hour the rain barrels were full, the yard looked like a huge pond, water was gushing down the street like a raging river. I couldn't see the sidewalk or the street. It was insane! Just minutes later there were sirens coming from all directions. There must have been many accidents nearby.

I can't believe the damage these rains can do in such a short period.

And of course this is big news in Arizona, there were severe weather alerts on TV, many lost power, lots of trees down, even roofs collapsing. Very scary. And once all this had calmed some they said 1 inch and 1/2 of rain had fallen in my area within a half hour!! Unbelievable.

Now I need to clean up the wet dog smell and muddy paw prints all over the place.
But it was exciting though. My garden and fruit trees will definitely benefit from this after all the heat and humidity we've been putting up with.
This is what I call a major Monsoon Storm!

Jul 29, 2010

I'm Canning!

Ok, this is my first attempt at canning, and I think I'm going to like it :)
Once I get the hang of it I'm certain I will get more creative.

I am hoping to get plenty of veggies from my garden come late fall, so I can try all the good canning recipes I found online. I'm especially hoping to be able to enjoy my garden goodies for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, along with offering them as gifts.
I love gifts in a jar :)

There are two ways to can, one is the Pressure canning method, the other is the Water bath canning method.The difference between the two is Bacteria.

Certain foods have a high level of acid in them. Acid kills bacteria. Foods with lots of acid in them don't require much heat to successfully kill of all the bacteria found in them. These foods (usually fruits and tomatoes) are canned using the water bath canning method, because they don't need a lot of heat to get rid of all the bacteria. Boiling fruits for 10 or 20 minutes will usually take care of it all.
Low acid foods, such as meats, sea foods and vegetables should always be pressure canned because the pressure canner can reach higher levels of heat. It is the only way to safely preserve them from deadly toxins.

This weekend I will be making Jam. Now is the season to buy berries. I'm not certain what kind yet. I will let my creative juices flow and be spontaneous. Maybe I will make a multiple berry jam :)

Yes I CAN!

Jul 23, 2010

Hypertufa Pots

My first Tufa pot!

I think this will be one of my favorite projects! one of the easiest to make too.
These planters look like they have been sitting outside for hundreds of years.

Hyertufa is lighter than concrete, they last, they drain well and they won't crack.

Hypertufa was created to be used as an inexpensive replacement for the natural volcanic rock called Tufa. Tufa was used for many things - it was hollowed out and carved unto coffins, sinks, bath tubs, animal troughs and used for planters by English gardeners. Natural tufa rock was quite popular among gardeners in England before it became hard to find.

This lead to its development. It comes from the Latin word hyper (over, excessively) and tufus (volcanic rock that is porous and crumbly). When hyper and tufa are put together we get "something more than tufa" or "fake tufa rock".

There are various Tufa recipes online but I chose the simplest one in my opinion, since this was my first attempt.

One way to get an ancient look is to add moss to the recipe (which you can find outdoors or the craft store) another way is to brush buttermilk or yogurt on them and let it sit and mold.

You can get creative and make bird baths, troughs, stepping stones...etc.
You can even add cement coloring!

I'm not done making these!

Nearly Done!

Jul 15, 2010

My Dreams of Living in the Country

It brings me peace at the thought of someday living in a self-sufficient, quiet rural place with enough land for my gardens and animals to flourish.

I want to get up each day being able to enjoy what I love doing; caring for my animals, tending the gardens, harvesting, preserving and canning my food, prepping and stocking for the colder seasons ahead, and even the silly little things like hanging my clothes and linens outdoors, or decorating with dried wildflowers puts a smile on my face :D

I want to look forward to the next day. Simply enjoy sharing the rewards of my country lifestyle with those I love.

I wish to raise my animals as "pets", and let them live out their full lives playing, grazing and being lazy.
I can already see special needs animals coming to my door and the barn :)

I am fortunate enough to have my 6 dogs and 5 chickens in this urban place, but really hope to upgrade one day in the near future.

I want to hear the sounds of frogs, crickets, the birds and the breeze in the trees.

Instead of pushy salespeople knocking on my door I'd have friendly neighbors dropping by with baskets of fresh vegetables from their gardens.

I could go to the Farmers market and buy local goods and crafts.

I'd like to get away from the busy city jungle where I've been feeling trapped most of my life.

Living in the country requires an active lifestyle, something I miss and I have lost in the last years. I hope I won't have to be in this chaotic corporate world much longer.

Ok, I am shamefully typing this at work and must move on with my crazy day...

It's so nice to dream though day

Jul 14, 2010

Another Person's Trash is My Treasure

This is just awesome! I was lucky enough to snatch this huge coop/dog house for free on Craigslist this morning! It was so big it barely fit in the truck. It had an additional extended roof with balcony but had to be left behind because there was no room :(
It took several people to help Tim get it up there.
Besides being weathered some, it has great bones and is very solid. I already have a project lined up! I'm thinking some sanding, a good trim with a vibrant color, maybe with some log wood trimming....hmmmm decisions decisions.
I will definitely post the "After" picture once I'm done :)
I love finding stuff like this out of the blue. Keeps me creative and happy.
And NO I will NOT keep it, I cannot have anymore chickens.

The Chickpeas

At least that's what I'm calling them. I couldn't find any individual names for them, this has pretty much stuck with me. Besides, I think they know I'm calling all of them when I say it :) These girls are really funny. The Leghorn likes to roost more than the others. She'll find any place to perch. I have an egg basket for decorative purposes but she finds it to be quite comfortable. I couldn't resist taking a picture of her this morning. Maybe one day she'll drop one in there :)

Rain Saver Barrels

Jul 9, 2010

Monsoon Season is Here

The Monsoon season has arrived! If there's anything that really fascinates me in Arizona its this time of year. Clouds are slowly creeping in on us in the distance, at home the pine trees are shedding their needles and covering everything on the ground. It's time to prep the rain barrels and hope for some good rains this year.

Ever since I can remember I have always been afraid of thunderstorms.
That has slowly changed since I moved here. With time I learned to enjoy them from a distance. It sure is exciting when lightning fills the dark skies. Or when the sun sets the sky turns into shades of pinks an reds. I've seen nothing like it anywhere else.

I am making sure everything will withstand the powerful winds, or micro-bursts as they call it. Making sure the bamboo shading won't rip to shreds, that the delicate fruit trees won't get damaged, and make sure the shade cloth around my garden stays put. Also, little things like wind chimes and patio chairs can easily be picked up by a sudden gust of wind and end up in the neighbor's yard. These storms can get really nasty.

The local news stations make it a Huge deal around this time. It's big news to finally see weather activity! The weather people in Arizona must have the easiest job in the world :)

I like to take my camera out to capture the intense cloud formations.

If I can get sufficient rain in my barrels I should have enough water for my garden for some time. Why let the water wash away down the curb when you can feed your plants. Everyone should save water.

Let the rains begin!

Jun 29, 2010

This Morning's Harvest. Yummy Baby Carrots

The Flock Has Arrived!

After weeks of going over each corner of the pen and making last minute adjustments, finally my chicks have come home :)

Over the weekend I got 4 little ones. Born on May 12, 2010.
One Leghorn, One Rhode Island Red, and two Barred Rocks. I will not go into detail but sadly the Leghorn fell victim to one of my sneaky dogs while I was distracted. It happened so fast and I hope this never happens again. I will make sure that it never ever does.
I mourned for a day, then headed out to get two more. I had to, I was so heartbroken and guilt-ridden.

I picked one Leghorn and another Rhode Island Red. Now I have 5 little ones running around the pen. They are quickly adapting to their space. How funny to see them head up the ramp when it's getting dark out. But they're not going in the coop yet. They like to just sit on the edge of the patio. That will have to change since they need to remain inside the coop at night. It's so cute how they all stick together and never separate.

It's an adjustment for everyone, especially my dogs. The mellow ones I brought in the coop for them to see and smell and that worked out just fine. They don't seem to bother with the new residents.

Chicks grow very fast so I intend to enjoy every minute of it. I look forward to checking up on them first thing every morning.