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Monday, August 3, 2015


Hello dear friends!   Hope you had a pleasant week!  First, I'd like to thank you all for your kind encouragement  in my last post.  I truly do appreciate it.  Just want to let you know that it meant a lot to me.


I had just finished canning potatoes and Ran had just bottled the last of his strawberry-rhubarb wine when the skies got as dark as coal..  Within minutes the electricity went out.  I swear they have a switch at the electrical plant and as soon as we have a storm, they cut the main switch. Anyway, to make a long story short, we were without electricity for the past eighteen hours, which I loved, but others, such as Jamie, were not as thrilled.  It's amazing what you can get done without the distraction of the internet and phones.  Almost completed a scarf I was knitting.  Hopefully it turned out nice, knitting by kerosene lamps, while very quaint and romantic, does have its drawbacks.  But the main lesson to be drawn from this, is be prepared.  Keep some flashlights handy, and have the makings for something to eat that doesn't require heating.  Oh!  And a deck of cards is always nice.  Beats twiddling your thumbs.


This week I canned green beans, pickled peppers (good on sandwiches) and potatoes.  I want to encourage everyone to can, particularly pressure canning.  It's nothing to fear.  It won't explode like in the movies, they have release valves on them.  If you follow the directions precisely, you won't get food poisoning.  I like the  All-American pressure canner because it doesn't have a gasket and they are very well built.  I believe that pressure canning is easier than making jams and pickles in a boiling water bath.   Jams are so fussy with all that skimming of foam and the jelling is sometimes iffy.  But  most vegetables have just to be cleaned, placed in a sterilized jar with a little salt, boiling water poured over them and sealed.  Not a lot of fuss at all.  The general directions for pressure canning are:

Step 1:  Fill the canner with the amount of water required in the manual. (Different canners vary)
Step 2:  Fill the canner with the jars of prepared food.
Step 3:  Put the lid on, tightening the screws alternately.
Step 4:  Vent the steam for 10 minutes.
Step 5: Place the weight on the vent.
Step 6:  Begin timing the process once the weight begins to rock and rattle and the pressure gauge registers 10 pounds (might need 15 pounds of pressure if you live in higher elevations)
Step 7: Adjust the heat so the pressure keeps steady.  All canners have a sweet spot for this.  On my stove it is the 6 mark on the knob.
Step 8:  When you have processed the jars for the time required, remove the canner from the heat.
Step 9:  Allow the pressure to return to zero pounds of pressure. Remove the weight from the vent.
Step 10:  Unscrew the nuts alternately. Open the canner lid away from your face.  Remove the jars.

Sometimes I wish I had a Youtube channel to demonstrate how easy it is, but I'm sure there are already plenty out there.  Use your computer to learn new skills, whether it be canning, knitting,, or how to play the guitar, there's wonderful videos out there.


My New Dawn roses have come back from the dead!

This spring I had to prune them back almost to the ground, after the second dreadful winter in a row. I didn't have much hope for them.  But they are coming back with a vengeance.  Only they are training themselves to grow on the south side of the privet, where they will be protected from the wind off the lake.  They are telling me, "None of this training us up the trellis business, Miss!"   One of the secrets to a bountiful flower garden is to take a  laissez-faire  approach to gardening.  Just let the flowers be what they want to be; if the roses are happier climbing up the bushes, so be it!  If hollyhocks reseed themselves in the iris patch, let them be.  You'd be surprised at the unexpected beauty that will come your way.  But then I am a fan of cottage gardens, those formal ones hold little interest to me.  I call it the Disney effect, when they try to make designs with different colored flowers and have so many annuals.  I like a more natural approach.


This past week we did our light summer pruning.  This is just a light pruning as opposed to the heavier winter/early spring pruning.  The goal is to trim away any weak or broken branches or any branches that cross over each other. You want to prune any densely  limbed younger trees to allow light to reach the inner branches.  This creates sturdier fruiting branches in younger trees. In mature trees trees this  improves fruit size.  Also the  more sparsely branched trees improves the air circulation, reducing the risk of fungus.  Remember this is supposed to be just a little trimming not a  haircut; leave the serious branch removal for the dormant season.


This week there were festivals galore in our area.  We attended the Pointe Aux Barques lighthouse  150th anniversary.

 There were storytellers, musicians, food tents, vendors and you could climb to the top of the tower.
There even was a very small Civil War re-enactment.
My point being, that every area has sources of entertainment.   You don't have to spend bales of money taking your children to those amusement parks, which shall remain unnamed, to give your children  happy memories.  It's a sad commentary on today's society that people equate spending money with having a good time.  When my grown children get together and reminisce about happy times, they speak of camping, or reading under the tree, or the time we stayed up all night watching the meteor shower (BTW, the next meteor shower is the Perseids shower on August 12th).  Never once do the mention the expensive trip we took one summer when we had a windfall.  As an adult, I actually prefer armchair travel, as many times I have traveled to places that looked so enticing in the brochures only to be disappointed.  As Emily Dickinson said,"There is no frigate like a book to take us to lands away ..."  And the advantage is that I can time travel, too!  I have some lovely books on New England by Samuel Chamberlain, that I can imagine myself right into, a world sadly, that is no more.


I read a lot of blogs on thrift, and one thing that strikes me is how many write about buying things.  Sure they got a great discount on whatever it was they were buying, but the still spent money. An old-fashioned concept that you don't hear very often these days is the easiest way to save money is not to spend any.  Of course it doesn't make for a very interesting blog; we didn't drive anywhere so we didn't buy gas, we didn't eat out, we didn't use any coupons because we didn't buy anything, etc.


This week I gathered some mullien leaves to dry. The Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains Blog has a great post on it.  Also gathering raspberry leaves and sage for medicinal purposes.  I'll write more about that later, as I'm in a crunch for time, as I have to get ready to go to the dentist. 


Canned green beans, potaoes and peppers.

Grated and froze summer squash.

Harvested brocolli, summer squash, potatoes, onions, pepper and green beans.

Collected the seeds from hollyhocks and mustard greens.

Gathered and dried mullien  and raspberry leaves.

Bottled up some strawberry-rhubarb wine.

 Began knitting a scarf from the yarn stash.

Bartered some work for a bag of oats.

Got a truckload of compost for free from the village.

Sorry for the abbreviated post this week. Between the electricity going out and the stupid dentist appointment, time is short.  Will try to make it up to you next week!  Have a lovely week!



  1. Hi Jane! What a blessing you got your canning finished before you lost power!
    Beautiful lake picture...serene.
    I appreciate your canning know-how and tips.
    And so true! Just don't spend money! I used to get bargains with couponing but half the stuff we didn't like anyway, and would've never bought. Modern frugalness reminds me of the "Lucy and Desi Show" when they went to Mexico and Lucy said since everything (she was buying clothes) is so much cheaper, (she told her husband) she should buy more and then the more she'd save!
    Andrea (Sorry I deleted my blogs...but I decided I didn't want to have to watch over them for any spam). Since sometimes I see 2 Andreas, I'll start signing AndreaC.

    1. Hi Andrea! Good to hear from you. Yes, I suppose it is easier to delete your blog than babysit over it. Never did have very many spammers here. Guess that's the upside of not being a big blog.

      Today's spend-to-save theory remind me of a scene from Life With Father, where the mother bought something than returned it and with the refund bought her son a suit. By the end she figured she had made money on the deal. Watching those extreme couponer shows where they buy shopping carts of Gatorade and candy bars for next to nothing always make me laugh. Why buy it, if you don't need it? It still takes time and energy and they still end up having to pay some money. And for what? A bunch of junk that isn't even good for you., But it's nothing new, I remember the early 80s when a lot of friends and co-workers were buying cars and all sorts of nonsense, because money would be worth less next year. Now all those people are complaining because they can't afford to retire, and gee! how did we get so lucky to retire early? Of course if I would have been able to, I would have had a larger family and Ran would need to keep on working, putting them through college. So that's the trade-off.

      Have a nice week! I hear that you are getting our heatwave. Hope you stay cool!


  2. Hi Jane,

    What a great post filled with some great tips! Your roses are stunning! Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Linda! Keep up the good work on your inspiring blog!


  3. Another lovely blog post. Your time without power sounds perfect. I have happy memories of a couple of times without power that were similarly romantic. One was when we were in Denmark visiting Ahmad's brother and family along with other family members. Suddenly there was a loud storm and thunder, lightening and torrential rain. We already had lots of tea-lights and candles lit and were eating a racklet supper a bit like fondu powered by oil...perfect time. We all had great fun together.
    I have never canned before and imagined a very complicated process but you make it sound so easy maybe in years to come if we forage or grow enough produce I will have a go too.

    I'm still collecting lots of seeds for next year, I've just dried lettuce and lupin so far but there are lots more to collect and I plan to take cuttings of rosemary and lavender for next year.

    Happy thrifing.

    1. That does sound like a wonderful meal and a wonderful memory, Debby!

      There's nothing as satisfying as growing your own food and preserving it. I guess it harkens back to our ancestors. Hopefully soon your lovely garden will produce enough. But be forewarned a garden that is large enough to be self-sustaining is often not a pretty garden. Always want mine to look like Farmer McGregor's in Peter Rabbit, but by July all the tomatoes are toppling over and we can't find the rows anymore. Ah well! Always something to strive for!

      We are collecting seeds here too. I even collected some tulip seeds. Never seen anyone start tulips from seeds, but that must be how baby tulips are born, right?

      Have a lovely week in your wonderful little cottage!


  4. I always enjoy visiting your blog, Jane. It's one of my favourites!

    My mom as well as my grandmothers canned every year. My mom isn't able to now but my niece and I are planning on having her show us how to can pickled beets this summer. Looking forward to it. I have a basic understanding and watched my mom can when I was younger but I really want to learn it hand-on.

    I had to laugh about the switch at your electrical company because it seems to happen here too (except Canadians called it hydro instead of electricity). One slight flash of lightening and no hydro! It's been better the last few years though. When the lights went out, I used to say the hamster fell off the wheel so maybe they got a younger hamster or a bigger wheel, lol!

    1. That is so sweet of you to say, Sandra. I really appreciate it!

      Take advantage of your mother's wisdom. There's lots of YouTube videos too. It's really very easy. I think a lot of people get turned off to canning because the start with jams and jellies, which are the most labor intensive. Also tomatoes and peaches are not the most fun. Unfortunately, that's what people start with and then learn to dislike it. It's like everything else, the first time you try it, it's pretty labor intensive, but after you learn, it's a piece of cakewalk.

      Just saw a fleet of Detroit Edison trucks go past. That means some people have been without electricity since Sunday afternoon. Boy! The really need to keep an eye on that hamster better!


  5. Lovely post, Jane! I'm always torn between loving to rough it and the lack of good light when our power goes down. I was surprised how little light the kerosene lamps emit, too. They're better than candles, but hardly bright and cheery.
    Your New Dawn roses are so beautiful. And I think I'll order some hollyhock seeds for next year. Loved the pictures of yours. My sister was here from Texas this week so I'm late getting around.
    Have a great weekend!

    1. I think it's the reason everyone went to bed with the setting sun and got up with the chickens. Not much can get done in the dark.

      If you like, I'd be glad to send you some of my hollyhock seeds, just e-mail me your address. My e-mail address is: I love sharing my seeds.


  6. Dear Jane,

    I'm so glad that your New Dawns came back; they're lovely! I agree that there are many fun things everywhere that are free or low-cost. Our family takes advantage of nature centers and other such offerings that we have here in Missouri, and we've learned so much from them.



    1. Hi Marqueta! I couldn't believe that they survived, I cut them back almost to the ground. Glad I was too lazy to dig them up. Ha! We have a lovely nature center down the road that offers all sorts of workshops. That's where we learned all about mushroom picking, enough to know that we are now terrified to do it! I've found that every area has little museum and historical places. Just driving around and stopping to read the historical markers can be a fun learning experience.