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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*

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!