Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Small Joys This Week

You've heard me say it here before - it's the small things that happen each day that I look out for. It's these ordinary things that bring moments of joy and contentment to life.

Here are a few things that have brought me joy over the past week or so...

As I was watering my tomato plants I heard a rustling nearby. I turned to see this cute little hedgehog snuffling about for food, no doubt he is on a mission to fatten up for his winter hibernation. 

We helped him out with heaping some cat food within sniffing distance and he happily spend about 15 minutes scoffing it all down. Now, along with attending to my bird feeder daily, I put little piles of cat food out which is always gone by the next morning. I have also set up two watering stations in the garden for these cute little creatures. 

It seems 'somebody' thought that the food was for her LOL. My cats pretty much ignore the hedgehogs in our garden, I think they know which creatures are not to be trifled with.

On another day I stepped out to hang up a load of washing and saw these to moggies just chilling together.

I thought they looked so sweet that I took a picture :)

And on yet another day I was sitting outside in the sunshine enjoying a quiet cup of tea when my attention was caught by the insect life happening all around me. Butterflies and bees abound on sunny days and watching them go about their work from flower to flower really was a joy and brought a sense of peace in that moment.

I pretty much always have my camera downstairs and nearby so that I can capture these fleeting moments. For me, when I slow down and observe the world around me, when I cease my business or slow down enough to stop and take in a small joyous moment presented to me, I find that I am better off for it. Small joys = great peace and appreciation for life.

Blessings to you all today...

Monday, August 08, 2016

Summers Bounty - Harvested and Preserved

Summer. Although it's not my favourite season (I tend to come alive with the onset of autumn) I have to say there is a lot offered up during this time of year to love.

Sweet Peas are one of those things. I have tried growing sweet peas for years with no luck - but this year I may have cracked it...

I have no idea what I have done differently mind you - but this is the third bunch of sweet peas so far and there are loads more to come. 

Hydrangeas are another of summers joys. I have two HUGE Hydrangea shrubs in my garden. One offers up pale blue flower heads and the other more pinky ones. Did you know that the colour of the hydrangea flower is dictated by the soil type it's in? 

My Hydrangeas are so prolific at the moment that we have bunches all over the house - just about in every room. My summer mantle boasts a beautiful big bunch...

I've heard that the flower heads can be preserved really nicely. I think I might try my hand at that this year. :)

Another of summers gifts ...

Apples and cucumbers are coming off the tree and vine right now. These are cooking apples so I think these particular ones are going to become an apple pie for the freezer. I found some apples on special the other day and bought a whole lot. They've become apple sauce which is stored in the freezer too. So far I've made apple sauce muffins and apple sauce and maple syrup pancakes. Can you ever have too much apple sauce on hand I wonder? :)

Red onions are always fairly cheap and one of our favourite preserves is Caramelised Red Onion chutney. I use it for so many different things. I spent some time two weeks ago making up a few jars for the pantry. It should be perfect to use right around autumn time.

I really do love to take seasonal food and use it as much as I can while it is available. Now I would love to say that I can grow all that we eat - but I can't. I don't have enough growing space and I think my gardening skills are average at best. BUT I am always on the lookout to take advantage of great deals in the grocery stores or at my local farm stall. So 'Harvesting' for me is not only using what I grow myself or gather from the hedgerows, it's 'harvesting' seasonal food from the grocery isles and farm stalls and then processing and preserving it at home. 

Getting out to the 'Pick-Your-Own' farms is a great way to get your seasonal food at it's freshest! During these months of abundance I will make a few trips to our local 'Pick-Your-Own'.

 If apples for example are in abundance then I make apple sauce, apple pies, chutney's and jams (my Apple Bramble jam is delish). Keeping the freezer and pantry stocked really gives me a sense of accomplishment and it really does save money as you are popping out to the store less frequently. 

The next month or two have a bounty of fruit and veg to offer and so I have been scouring my favourite cookbooks and listing recipes that will help me to take advantage of this productive time. I've recently bought a chest freezer and I intend to have it stocked with all manner of lovely things as we move into the colder and less productive months.

Do you take advantage of summers harvest at all - whether it be growing your own or harvesting from the grocery store?