Friday, August 26, 2011

A Very Full Friday

Today was one of those wonderful days when I love being at home by myself, on my own terms, completing all the kinds of around-home tasks that make me feel most satisfied. I am too restless and too much of a social person for staying home alone every day to be appealing, but when I can have two or three days per week to just potter around the house and garden and get projects done, I am happy. Right now, I've got a bit more than that, as I'm unemployed again (as you may have noticed; I am done with the temporary job I was at). Too much time without a scheduled job or school makes me restless, but at the same time very prone to laziness. Right in between is where it's at for me.

I got up with Matt at 7:15 this morning, and after having breakfast and seeing him off to work, I took advantage of the unusually cool morning and watered the garden while there was enough chill that the water wouldn't evaporate straightaway. We've been in a 6-week long streak of dry, warm summer, which launched into 85-90 degree days about a week and a half ago, and for awhile the nights were pretty uncomfortable. Most days, I've been watering the garden just before dark, but we had forgotten to do it last night.
(Click on Photos to Enlarge)

This morning, for the first time, I felt a touch of autumn in the air, that slight crispness that says fall is just around the corner! I'm super excited to feel that, after all these hot summer days, my favorite season is almost here!

After watering the garden, I went through the morning routine with the chickens, letting them out of the henhouse and into the run. I always crack up at the way they all pour out of the hen house and down the ramp when I lift the sliding door. Next, I filled their feeder and washed out and refilled their water bowl and gave them a big handful of arugula to snack on.

I've been waiting for a day cool enough to be able to work upstairs, and this morning I finally managed it! Until about noon, the garret held off on its usual sauna effect, enough time for me to inaugurate my new sewing machine by making a cover for it, inspired by this pile of great fabrics I found at my favorite thrift store the other day, for a grand total of $6:

I am in love with this sewing machine. A million thanks to Laurel for gifting it to me, it makes me realize just how crappy my old one was, and makes me feel like I could sew anything! This sweet BabyLock sews quietly, it sews in a straight line with hardly any guidance from me, the tension adjustment answers correctly, and it is as smooth and easy to operate as you could wish--all things a sewing machine should do, but my old one didn't! :)

The completed cover. Not too shabby for making up the pattern on the spur of the moment, if I say so myself!

Back downstairs, I filled up the big kettle and put it on the stove before having lunch, and then set to work on preserving the boxful of peaches we picked up at a farmer's market on Wednesday. They were perfectly ripe today, so I dove in and found myself feeling like a 19th century farm wife, canning in an un-air conditioned (95 degree) kitchen in the heat of the day, with sweat running down my forehead. Except that I got to wear a light cotton skirt and tank top under my apron, rather than a full-length dress and a few layers of petticoats. Also, I had music (my Wailin' Jenny's station on Pandora, perfect for a summer day in the kitchen). I multi-tasked by mixing up a batch of banana bread once the first batch of jars were in the boiling water bath, to use some bananas that had ripened too quickly in the heat. So with the outside temperature at 83 degrees, two big kettles of hot water on top of the stove and the oven set at 375, it got pretty warm!

Canning peaches is an activity that certainly goes faster with a couple sets of hands, but I feel a sense of satisfaction at completing the entire process by myself. It's the first time I've canned anything besides jam on my own, and there are so many steps to putting up fruit! Sterilize the jars, blanch the peaches and then put them in an ice water bath, peel and halve them into a vinegar bath, make the sugar syrup, sanitize lids, all before the actual canning can happen. But I have 13 (a canner's dozen?) quarts of peaches to show for it (and they all sealed too), so we can have a home-preserved taste of summer this winter!

We're going to turn one of the sets of shelves in the basement into a pantry/root cellar space, because now we don't have enough space in the kitchen cupboards for all of our preserves. So tonight or tomorrow we'll have to get down there and shift some things around. All of the bulk extras/stockpile are already down there, in mouse-proof bins, and I want to get some good containers to keep potatoes in down there too, because right now they are in a cupboard that we could really stand to free up for other storage.

Happy Friday to you all, enjoy the weekend and may you be happy with your accomplishments!


Brenna said...

I LOVE canning peaches! Our freestones won't be ready until next week, but I fully intend to preserve a good 40 pounds of them! Come on over and check out my giveaway!


Sam said...

Those fabrics are to die for! So pretty! Love love love the sewing machine cover. What else are you planing to make with your machine?
Your canning looks good, do you know of any online tutorials on how to can? I would love to learn how to do this. Sam xox

FlowerLady said...

Liz ~ What a wonderfully productive day you had. Your sewing machine cover is sweet, and all of those jars of peaches look wonderful. Summer sunshine for later enjoyment. I made a loaf of banana bread yesterday morning before work as I had two ripe bananas that needed taking care of.

Enjoy your time at home, taking care of everything there. You inspire me.