One of the interesting things about buying a house that has been around, nearly forever, is that I’m not quite sure exactly what is growing on the property–because I didn’t plant any of it. In fact, it’s a fun surprise to wander around out back and find something different blooming every few days. My daughter tells me that these flowers are echinacea, and so I will happily believe her. Happily, because this is a good, helpful plant and it makes me smile to think that maybe there are more useful things out here waiting to be discovered. Trouble is, I don’t really know what I’m looking at, most of the time.
Can you help me? Please let me know in the comments if you recognize any of these plants–would you?
1) Tiny pink, bottle-brush type flower.
2) Giant, soft-ball sized white flowery bush.
3) Dull, red berries, on a privet-type bush.
4) Large, white flowers with a maroon center.
5) Pointy leaves with small, shiny, red, pea-sized berries on it.
I’d love a little help with identifying any of these so I know if they have a use that I should be aware of or it they are just sitting there being something pretty to look at.
While visiting the house the other day with the family, the kids came in shrieking that I needed to “come out back NOW!!”
There, nestled in the tall grass was an adorable tiny owl. I’m no owl expert, but it looked to me like a sleepy little baby just waiting for it’s mama to swoop down and take him home. We stayed back so as not to scare him. But honestly, he didn’t seem to mind our “Oooooh-ing and ahhhh-ing,” and all the “isn’t he so sweet-ing?” that we just couldn’t help. He seemed to sleep right through most of it, except for the occasional one eye, drifting open for a second and then falling shut again.
He reminded me of Ron Weasley’s tiny owl, Pigwidgeon, from the Harry Potter series. In fact, I’m going to take him in my own back yard, as a good omen.
For one who wholeheartedly believes in fairies, unicorns, dragons, pixies and anything else whimsical and sparkling…it’s not too much of a stretch of the imagination to say…
Hard to believe, but today marks Harry Potter’s 35th birthday. How is that even possible?! We’ve never enjoyed a series of books, as a family, quite like the Harry Potter series. And certainly, I’ve never watched the same series of movies over and over and OVER again–like I have this one.
Perhaps, I’ll celebrate Harry’s Birthday by pulling the books off the shelf one more time.
Because, you know…there can never be too much magic for me.
I had to take a break from packing and painting and weed killing because some things…like apricots, just won’t wait. At the risk of losing them all, I decided to just drop everything and make some jam in my cute little kitchen.
I wasn’t positive that I even had everything that I needed because I’m still living in one house while working on the other, and I don’t have my kitchen totally set up yet.
As it turns out, I found what I needed. I also found a very simple recipe without pectin, that–short of burning the whole pot to a crisp–promised to be pretty much fool-proof. My kind of recipe.
So, you start with 8 cups of washed, pitted, and chopped apricots.
Mush them around a bit with a potato masher. You don’t have to go crazy with this part–just smash them enough that you release a fair amount of the natural juices.
Add 1/4 cup of lemon juice. I used bottled juice–but if you have fresh lemons, you can use them. Either way should be fine.
Now add 6 cups of sugar to a nice, deep sauce pan. Stir in the apricots and mix it well.
Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Once the mixture reaches a rolling boil, continue cooking for about 30 minutes. Keep checking on it and stirring so that it doesn’t stick to the pan and scorch.
When it starts getting really foamy, I always add about a teaspoon and a half of butter–which usually calms it all down. You don’t have to do that–it’s just what I do.
Now I should have a lovely picture of pouring the beautiful jam into the jars, but since I was alone in the house, taking pictures of that process seemed like a good way to land in the emergency room. SO…
you’ll have to believe me when I tell you that I poured the jam in the hot, clean jars and processed them in the boiling water canner for 10 minutes.