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Monday, August 17, 2015


Hello dear friends!  Sorry about the delay in posting.  In spite of it being the quintessential summer's day with blue skies and a gentle wind, the internet kept skipping in and out.  After reentering my passwords  several times, I became frustrated with the whole thing and just gave up.  Technology is a thorn in my side.

So here's a bouquet of brown-eyed-Susans as an apology.


I think sometimes it may seem that I romanticize my life.  To be sure, not everything is always rosy as some may think.  For instance,  in the past couple of months  we have spent over one-third of our yearly income on unexpected repairs.  When we retired, we thought we would mitigate these costs by buying a top-of-the-line new furnace and a new car, but fortune had other ideas, and the furnace required a major repair when it was hit by a power surge and the car is a lemon that requires the wheel bearings to be replaced  every few months.  Our savings are dwindling quickly.  Fortunately we had a savings account set up for the unexpected.  Just didn't expect so much "unexpected"  all at once! Ha! So for us, gardening and canning is not just a nice little hobby, it's the insurance that keeps the wolves from the door.  But I'm not complaining, in spite of it all, I'd rather live like this than have a big fat paycheck.  There is such serenity and delight in each new day, it surely offsets any inconveniences that we may encounter from lack of funds.

So I thought I'd show you what a typical day for us entails.  Ran awoke early and dug the remainder of the potato patch before the heat became too unbearable. 
We ended up with about 150 pounds of potatoes this year.  Not bad for a small plot.  Then the potatoes were sorted through and washed, the smallish ones and those that were pierced by the fork were set aside to be canned another day.

I had a quick wash up and made the trip to the post office.  When I returned I had  this
and this
waiting for me to can.  The tomatoes are producing about a bushel a day now.  Today I started canning at 9:30 AM and didn't finish until 6:30 PM.  At the end of the day we had 15 pints of chili and 16 jars of ketchup canned up. Yesterday I canned 8 pints of spaghetti sauce.

A whole tableful of food.  By the way, those orange things in the graniteware bowl are Turkish eggplants.  Aren't they pretty?

While the chili was in the pressure canner, Ran washed and seeded the peppers and I diced them.  I have a new device called a Vidalia  Chop Wizard, that is a tiki-tacky seen-on-TV device, but it really makes it a quick chore to dice up veggies for canning; can't wait to use it for relish.  The peppers went into the dehydrator.

While I was busy in the kitchen, Ran took advantage of the hot and windy day to wash some more of our heavier rugs.  It felt like a clothes dryer outside so they dried fast.
By 7:00 PM we finally sat down to a meal of corn on the cob (the first of the season from our garden) and fresh tomatoes.  No finer meal could be served to a king.

In between the busyness,  I stepped outside to feel the breeze and to observe the little Ruby Crowned Kinglet  that has taken over the back yard.  She really does rule the roost.  We all tip-toe around her lest she get annoyed and flee.  For such a teeny tiny bird, she has such bravery ; she gets right up to the stray cats and squawks to keep them away from her nest.  Such a courageous little mother!    And that is a typical August day for two pauper retirees. Perfect!


We are drying raspberry and sage leaves.  When combined and made into a tea they make a good astringent  for sore throats and  gums.  I never get canker sores but it probably works for them also.


Whenever I go to garage sales, I always pick up quirky little things to re-purpose.  This is a wind chime that I call "An Ode to Wm. Rogers Silverplate" :
All the pieces were picked up for  a quarter or less, except for the teapot, which I bought for a few dollars at an estate sale (it had a dent).  The crystals were from an old chandelier and I used some beads from a broken necklace and some old earrings.  I need to find a better place to hang it, somewhere that catches the sun.  It's  really big, about five feet tall.  I used fishing line to tie it all together.  It's very snickety as we like to call off-beat quirky things.  Snickety is my style.  Too-cheerful  and conventional things make me uncomfortable! I don't even like certain flowers because they are too perfect looking.


Lest you think we are dull boys with all work and no play, on Friday we ventured out on the annual garage sale trail that runs along the coast of Lake Huron.   We found mostly practical things, like knitting needles in sizes I didn't have, an awl for Ran's leather working, and a extra extra large black wool coat that I plan on making into a Maggie Bonanomi-type quilt this winter.  Most of our finds cost under a dollar; our one big splurge being this tin wahstub that cost $20:
 It has such a pretty shape. I love beautiful tools.  You should see my gardening tools that I've amassed over the years.  My motto is, "beauty costs the same as ugly when thrifting".  It just feels better to use a vintage trowel with a beautifully turned wooden handle rather than a plastic one.  It's those type of little things that make everyday magical.


We packed a lunch to bring along while out on our "hunt".  I wanted to have bring some peach cobbler along but didn't want to deal with forks and dishes, so I came up with this recipe for Peach Cobbler Bars, using a crumble recipe and my peach cobbler filling.

Peach Cobbler Bars

Peach Filling

3 C. peaches, peeled and diced
1/2 C. sugar
1/4 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg


1 1/2 C. flour
1/2 C.sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
a pinch of salt and nutmeg
1/2 C, butter, softened
1 egg

Combine the filling ingredients and set aside.
Combine the dry ingredients  for the crumble.
Cut in the butter until soft crumbs form.  Stir in the egg.
Pat half of the cobbler mixture into a lightly greased  8" pan.
Top with the peach mixture.
Crumble the rest of the cobbler mixture over the top of the peaches.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until the cobbler starts to turn a light brown and the peaches begin to bubble.

Harvested the rest of the potatoes and broccoli.
Harvested peppers, tomatoes, and corn.
Dried peppers, raspberry leaves and sage.
Made a wind chime from "found" objects.
Canned 8 pints of spaghetti sauce, 15 pints of chili, and 16 jars of ketchup.
Bought some tools at garage sales.
Brought our own brown bag lunch on our roadtrip.
Washed more rugs, the washtub method way.
Ate almost exclusively from the garden.
Hung the laundry on the line.
Started knitting a scarf from my yarn stash.

Well that's it for this week.  Hope you all have the loveliest week ahead of you filled with joy and delight!



  1. dear jane,
    great harvest!!!! last year have i had a proper harvest of tomatoes,peppers,etc. but this year not.
    i think it was to hot and dry in my part of the world.
    your garage finds are so pretty and really cheap. your peach cobbler looks delicious,thanks for the recipe!!!
    the scarf from your last post are so pretty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    have a nice week my friend,
    hugs and love,regina

    1. I've been reading about the heatwave you've been having, Regina. So sorry about that. The last week it has been in the upper 80s and low 90s. I can attest to it being miserable. Hope soon you will get a break in the weather. It can't go on forever can it? Hopefully this means you'll have a mild winter! Stay cool and drink lots of water!


  2. Wow, you amaze me Jane with all that you do.

    That recipe for the Peach cobbler bars sounds and looks delicious!

    Have a great week ~ FlowerLady

    1. Well then Rainey, we must have a mutual admiration society going on, because I am always amazed by how much you do in a day, especially in such heat!

      We're peach crazy this year. Ran always said he hated them, but I started baking with them because they just say "summer" to me. And now he wants something with peaches in it every day. Today we are going to a friends house to make a peach pizza.

      Is your dog sitting stint over now? Hope you have a nice week creating and gardening at Plum Cottage!


  3. Hi Jane! I always enjoy your posts because you are so down to earth and industrious. Your harvest makes a lovely picture, and I well know how much work is behind the table-full of canned goods. I barely had a garden this year, but we are enjoying what we're getting from it anyway.

    I'm loving your "quirky" little wind chime. Really it's not quirky at all, it's very pretty. All the pieces you used give it a familiar, cozy look. :) And I love, love the tub. I agree, vintage is so much more fun to use than modern tools. Years ago we did school tours at a local historical site for which we purchased several period reproduction items to use in our presentations. Now, I use those things for everyday chores. ;)

    Hope you have a wonderful week!

    1. Thank you for the kind words. Sorry to hear about your garden, I understand a lot of them are being drowned out. Feel so blessed to have a wonderful harvest, it just wouldn't be right to squander it.

      It may sound silly but I love that tub! It makes my heart sing.

      Sounds like you have led an interesting life. Must have been fun.

      Have the happiest week!


  4. Love all of your beautiful veggies! What a nice harvest. Your wind chime craft seems like it would be a fun project, as would hunting for treasure at yard sales. My younger sister and her family recently moved into their first house, and she has done a wonderful job furnishing and decorating it completely with yard sale and second hand finds. She is pretty crafty and really good at putting things together, every time I go to her house she has finished something new and all for a fraction of what it would cost new, plus a really unique look. Your peach cobbler bars sound absolutely delicious! I love bars and cobblers what a perfect combination, yum!! Hope you have a wonderful week! :)

    1. Hi April! I guess I'm fortunate this year, most people I know say their gardens are struggling. I think it might be all these old heirloom varieties, they seem hardier to me.

      Oh yes, you can really save a lot of money on home furnishings by shopping yard and estate sales. Wish I had known about it when I was starting up housekeeping. Plus it's a lot of fun. Like a big treasure hunt.

      Keep cool and safe!


  5. The raspberry leaf and sage tea sounds interesting. I will harvest these and look forward to trying this. Thanks for posting your book list. I'm always looking for good things to read.

    1. Oh Laurie, so sorry about the delay in answering your comment. Have had problems with Blogger and the internet in general this week. Thanks for stopping in and saying hi!


  6. Dear Jane,

    Great job on your potato and tomato harvest! My tomatoes turned rotten while they were still green, except for a few cherry types that are plugging away. Thankfully we have friends who have donated their extra tomatoes to us. :) I love your new old wash tub; you could probably use it as a hip bath, if you were so inclined!
    Thank you for reminding me to harvest my raspberry leaves; they are very high in iron and calcium, and help tone the female system.



    1. Yes, I've heard that the weather has been pretty brutal your way, Marqueta. So sorry. We certainly feel very blessed to have such a wonderful harvest.
      I was thinking the same thing about the tub!
      I didn't know that about the calcium in raspberry leaves. That's good to know! I always worry about getting enough calcium.


  7. What a wonderful week, Jane! I enjoy learning something new every week from you! Enjoy these last days of summer! <3

    1. Thanks Matty! You have a lovely week too!


  8. I'm just testing if I can comment here because I've been having problems.

  9. Oh that's better. Hello Jane. I've been having problems commenting. A few days ago I wrote out a big long comment three times and each time I couldn't publish it. Thank goodness it's back to normal now.
    Your days sound lovely and full and productive. Your crops look amazing, I aspire to have similar ones, one day. I have never made my own dried herbal teas, just used fresh sage or mint leaves. Can I ask how you dry your raspberry leaves our little bush has lots of leaves and I would love to be able to save them for the winter months.
    I love the galvanised metal tub...I found some similar ones for planting. I have exactly the same feeling about reusing things if at all possible. I often wonder who things previously belonged to. I sometimes imagine the tales they could tell.
    Peach crumble has been a favourite but your bars look amazing. I must try them.
    Thank you so much for letting us having this little peep into your day.
    I hope that you have some rest and relaxation too...maybe a little knitting with your feet up.
    ps love your wind chime and your gorgeous blue door.