Monday, August 18, 2008

A New Beginning

Well, all my worries this summer over what to do this fall seem to have resolved themselves nicely. I haven't even had a chance to tell anyone yet, but I did get a job as a teacher's aide at the Primary school. It was a whirlwind experience, as in driving home from a family reunion in Tennessee, going to a quick interview, accepting the job on the spot, and then heading back out for family vacation two hours later. We got home after midnight last night, and I started work this morning!

I'll be working with one individual student, helping to adjust assignments for his level, working one-on-one with core subjects, escorting to speech, OT, PT, etc. I am also going early two mornings a week to provide before-school care for the children of school employees, as their work day starts earlier than they are supposed to drop off their kids. I think it is wonderful that the district is offering this to their employees free of charge! I also have lunchroom and recess duty for the second & third graders. Sigh. Better pack my ear plugs! Not so bad this time of year, but around January/February I'll be miserable.

Anyway, just wanted to explain about the new adventure I'm embarking upon. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New Garden Slide Show

Be sure to check out the new slide show I added at the bottom of the page. I've been documenting my garden each month, and finally got a few (!) images put into a slide show! There are a few pictures that looked rotated right in the preview, but show up rotated sideways in the slide show.
Sorry! I'll have to go back and fix them later!

More "Putting By"

This was my first year growing cucumbers, and I guess I had not realized just how prolific they might be. I've been making cucumber salad, slicing it on sandwiches and salads, and today did a marathon pickling session. I tried two different methods, one involving soaking them in lime overnight to help them stay crisp, and one without. I used different brine/spice mixtures on each batch, too, so I can compare. I also have three different varieties of cucumber (Pearl, which is white-skinned--makes pretty pickles; and Eureka and Marketer, which are green-skinned and both were listed as good pickling cukes.) I truly didn't realize how quickly they would mature from pinky-sized to the size of a water bottle! I've been picking daily, and just can't fathom how they can grow so much overnight.

My only regret is that all the dill I started from seed grew prolifically as long as I kept it in pots inside, but was quickly devoured by something (four legs or six?) shortly after getting planted out into the herb garden. Last year was my first pickle attempt, and I think they were much prettier in the jar, with the big heads of fresh dill floating with the cucumbers. Ah, well. I guess when we taste them, that will be the real test.

Matthew loves to devour dills, but found the vinegar and garlic smell a bit overwhelming in the kitchen. I think he got his fill of preservation yesterday, when he helped me freeze 8 doz. ears of corn. He and Justin husked most of them, while I blanched them, and then we all worked together to cut them off the ears and package them for freezing. Matthew is old enough to do a really good job with both a knife and the Lee Corn Cutter, and Justin did a fair job with the Lee cutter, too, though I wouldn't let him do the knife method. I just couldn't bear the thought of one of his little fingers ending up in a pan of corn.

I also decided that I need to be a little more generous with all the jams I've made the past few years. As I hunted in my basement for empty jars, I came across a surprising stockpile of jam: cherry, peach, blackberry, grape, cran-grape, strawberry, strawberry-rhubarb. I find it hilarious that we eagerly eat all the corn, beans, and pickles I can preserve, and leave the sweets on the shelf! I guess we are all too addicted to cinnamon sugar to go through that much jam. I need to start finding other ways of preserving all those fruits, that we will actually use! In the meantime, anyone want some 1-4 year old jam?