I love life!

Hi, I am Jo and this is my blog about my life. Here you will find entries on cooking, gardening, food safety and the interesting things happening in my search for an inexpensive and healthy way of living. My home is located in North Florida and I am relearning how to take care of myself at almost 50. This is the deep South so my garden and season may be a bit different than yours. I look forward to seeing what you have to say as time passes. Read on and have a beautiful day!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!!!!

May 2012 be a year of joy, contentment and love for all!  

Today's Bounty!!

Today was a nice quiet day for me spent mostly at home or close to home. I visited with my neighbor Jen  and her mom while she had her yard sale then came home to read. My afternoon was spent napping and clearing out beds in the garden. After 4 weeks of neglect the tomatoes had succumbed to a virus and insects were munching merrily on the tomatoes. Sadly, and with regret  I had to pull out all of my Amish Paste tomatoes which left only three Viva Italia plants. The rest of the garden was fair to middling and tomorrow I will be clearing out the other casualties as well as the weeds that have slowly crept into the beds.   

After the tomatoes were destroyed I walked around the yard and marveled at the sheer beauty of the plants and trees in our yard. I am a novice gardener at best and am consistently befuddled by what happens to my plants. They start out lush and beautiful then I turn my back and Mother Nature plays pranks. When I turn around again leaves are curled or bug bitten or plants are stunted or dead. Yet there are the successes, beans that are so prolific I have to can dilly beans so my husband does not have to eat them nightly for weeks. Cherries abundant enough to make cherry jam and freeze cherries for more jam later in the year and greens enough to keep us in salad for months. These successes balance out the annual failures in my garden and keep me trying again every season.  

Yes, I pulled most of my tomato plants. It is fine because I harvested enough green tomatoes to give a few away and to put up a few pints of green tomato chutney. It also opens space to put in more salad greens, some chard and anything else that strikes my fancy.

A little bit of Hope on a tree. Persian Lime blossoms.
My garden gives me hope. When I plant a seed I trust that eventually grow into a plant that will feed and nourish myself and my loved ones. May garden gives me patience. A plant does not simply produce right after planting. It takes time and effort- no instant gratification here. My garden gives me beauty. Working in the beds and in the yard puts me out in the paradise of South Florida. I can watch bees hop from plant to plant or see water droplets glistening like diamonds on emerald green leaves. 

Most of all my garden brings me peace. I can be overwhelmed by work and stretched to the limit. When I walk out that door and into the yard it all fades away. I don't even have to work in the garden I can simply stand and look around and the cares of the day dissolve into nothing.     

A snapshot of Peace and Beauty, Star Fruit buds (Carambola)
May 2012 be a year of hope, patience and beauty for you as well. With love from my garden to your home.
Have a Blessed and Happy New Year!!!   

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holidays and Stuff

Adorable "get well" bouquet from my godfather and his kids 2 weeks ago!

This last week has been long and exhausting. It was my first week back at work since surgery and my body was not as ready as my mind was. Most evenings I came home, crashed on the couch and Rob made dinner. I must say we ate very well!! Last night was completely different. My state vehicle died and instead of coming home early as planned , my afternoon was spent calling my supervisor, the state offices and roadside assistance. When I finally got home I was fried. It was another evening on the couch....go figure. Only Rob went to a hockey game with the boys. I was in bed by 9 pm.

Last week I made 23- 12 oz jars of mixed berry jam for holiday gifts for my coworkers and for Rob's coworkers. Then over the week end we purchased a case of pickling cukes from the local produce stand and I canned 12 pints of bread and butter pickles and have 10 lbs of dill pickles fermenting in a bucket.  The pickles were in a dish pan in the back room but the room was smelling strongly of pickle juice. Rob was kind enough to bring me a plastic 5 gallon bucket from work and now we have a loosely covered bucket in the kitchen. All of the recipes came from the Ball Blue Book. I had been using a family recipe fro the pickles but they were coming out rather soft. I figured I would try the recipe in the Blue Book as that has not led me wrong yet.
Jam in the pantry with the tomatilla salsa.

Pickle brine- pickles not visible :).

Christmas Eve will be spent with a house full of both friends and family. We are looking to have close to 20 people if you count the babies.  The menu is a little less eclectic than previous years and  a lot more people will be here for the fun. I can't wait to see everyone and enjoy all of the food and entertainment from the little ones.
We will be having a gluten free pear tart and this is a picture of the last one I made. Notice it did not make it to the photo without a piece missing.  Sadly, I have no one to blame but myself!

I'll try to post food picture and notes after the festivities!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Back to the Blog

I have been away from the blog for a couple of weeks as I had surgery and quite honestly, until today, I could have cared less about blogging or much else for that matter. My days have been spent sleeping on the couch, sleeping in the bedroom with fits and starts of activity mixed in.  The first week home was just a blur of discomfort and painkillers. For some reason the first few days out of the hospital I felt exceedingly happy but it is all a little fuzzy looking back and with anesthesia who knows.

Before I went to the hospital I had all of these amazing plans for my off time before I went back to work. I was going to can and preserve all kinds of garden stuff, make jam for coworkers gifts, organize Christmas and order everyone's Christmas gifts online. Not to mention wrap all of the awesome gifts I purchased.  Rob was going to have a good dinner every night and we could play scrabble in the evening. (Yes, I am a dork I like scrabble!). I am sure that you will be shocked to know how little of that actually occurred.

I managed to can 1 small batch of tomatilla salsa and slept most of the entire next day. I ordered exactly 1 gift online and it still is not here. I did however order myself some random stuff from Lehman's like a new mop and some killer dishcloths.  Jelly for coworkers, not yet and as for wrapping gifts you can't wrap what you don't have. Rob has had to cook more often than not and when I have cooked it has been enough to couch me for the rest of the evening. As for scrabble, well we reorganized the back room and I can not even find the game even if I could get my amazing hubby to play.

I have about a week until I have to return to my job and am still sleeping and resting a lot. Apparently, I can walk a lot but no real lifting for a while yet. I get a little stir crazy, work for a while then collapse. I am just looking forward to doing a little yoga and actually working in the garden instead of just gazing at it.

Now I am off too nap and a walk later.
Hugs to all!!