Monday, September 17, 2012

The Great Crabapple Harvest - Apple Butter Edition

Well that was a dangerous little adventure!

Having never made apple butter before, I had no idea that when trying to bring the apple pulp to a boil it actually turns in to a spitting, hissing pot of molten lava. I burned my hand (not serious) and almost got some in my eye (considering safety glasses in the kitchen now). Also, having never made apple butter before, I had no idea what it was supposed to look like or how it was supposed to "behave". I just followed the recipe and will hope for the best. It just looks like applesauce to me (which I suppose it is). I still have some apple pulp left... not sure if I want to brave the lava again or if I'll just sweeten it a little and freeze it for apple sauce. My Mom used to make crabapple sauce when we were kids and I like the tartness of it.

The Great Crabapple Harvest

I haven't done a lot of canning the past few years. There was that brief teaching experience last year, when I taught my boyfriend how to can oranges and make marmalade, but other than that it's been quite some time.

So, when I was visiting my Mom and saw her tree drooping under the wait of all those red apples I knew I had to get to work this year! We picked 3 large, reusable shopping bags full (this is only two, but, trust me, there was a third):

Out of the first bag I got 13 half pints and 3 other jars (not sure of the size) of jelly:

I don't think there is anything prettier than jars of crabapple jelly in the sun!

My plans for the rest of the first bag are for crabapple butter. I've never made it before, so it will be a new experience. I'm also looking for new recipes to try with the other two bags. I'm going to try some spiced whole apples, some chutney and some liqueur. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Back Online! and What My Experiment Taught Me

So... the main thing my experiment with no home Internet taught me is that it is extremely difficult to maintain a blog when you have no Internet! It is also difficult to do a lot of other things... like network, take online courses and keep up with life in general outside of work and home. Therefore, I made the decision this month to get reconnected. I went 8 months without though and in this day and age I think that's pretty major (although my boyfriend has gone a lot longer without home Internet. I guess he wins this one... not that we were competing).

I am 9 months and counting cable television free however and not going back! I still have a TV and we use it to watch DVDs we rent from the library (who knew there were so many good movies in stock at the library?). Even my son has gotten in to it and doesn't miss TV. In the place of television I have spent more time knitting and reading and spending time with friends. I have had the time to improve on old hobbies (knitting) and pick up new ones (spinning and learning to play violin). I go to bed at a more decent time (most nights) and I have learned to enjoy a quiet house again, without the constant drone of the television set.

My coworkers are finally starting to catch on. They no longer ask me, "Hey, did you catch that episode of The Bachelor last night?" or "Oh my God! Can you believe that episode of CSI?!?" I will admit to missing The Walking Dead and have banned everyone from telling me happens until the DVDs are available for rental at the library...

Monday, February 13, 2012

40 Things: Try 40 Different Microbrews

1. Granville Island Maple Cream Ale
2. Big Rock Scottish Heavy
3. Alley Kat Three Bears Oatmeal Stout
4. Granville Island Lions Winter Ale
5. Phillips Brewing Company Longboat Chocolate Porter
6. Unibroue Trois Pistoles
7. Phillips Brewing Company Ginger Beer
8. Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer
9. Innis & Gunn Rum Finish
10. Phillips Brewing Company Amnesiac Double IPA
11. Fuller's Organic Honey Dew
12. Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel
13. Marston's Oyster Stout
14. Peroni Nastro Azzurro
15. Fuller's London Porter
16. Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier
17. Fernie Brewing Co. Ol' Willy Wit Belgian White Ale
18. Rogue Brewery Hazelnut Brown Ale (my favourite!)
19. Wells Brewers Banana Bread Beer (so good!)
20. Wychwood Brewerty Hobgoblin Legendary Ruby Beer - I am missing some on my list here I think, or maybe I better get drinking! Only a 3.5 months left in the year and I'm only half way there...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

40 Things to Do the Year I Turn 40

I am turning 40 this August. I thought it would be fun to make a list of 40 Things to Do before then, although I may change it in to 40 Things to Do the Year I Turn 40, because I have less than 7 months left.

Here is my list (in no particular order):

1. Learn to spin - DONE and spinning
2. Knit something from my handspun
3. Finish my epic quilting project
4. Read Anna Karenina (in progress)
5. Sing karaoke
6. Re-learn to ice skate well (in progress)
7. Go cross-country skiing
8. Learn to snowshoe
9. Finish decorating my art studio - DONE!
10. Plant a vegetable garden - DONE...sort of... I planted planters and they were pretty much all wiped out by a combination of hail and a vindictive squirrel
11. Take a Scotch tasting class
12. Learn to run
13. Learn to swim
14. Participate in a physical event - DONE May 26 - Why?Race
15. Complete a hike in Waterton
16. Eat breakfast in Cereal, Alberta
17. Complete 40 Random Acts of Kindness
18. Try 40 different microbrew beers (in progress)
19. Forgive my Grandfather - DONE
20. Paint a painting
21. Hang the painting in my house
22. Learn to play a song on the violin - DONE (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star in case you were wondering)
23. Run a 5K
24. Ride my bike to work
25. Host a dinner for my closest friends
26. Make my own mozzarella cheese
27. Read Walden (in progress)
28. Achieve my goal weight
29. Go Speed Dating - no longer necessary... I'm with someone great! :-)
30. Learn to meditate - DONE
31. Go to a Farmer's Market outside of the city
32.Climb the Calgary Tower - Done - May 26
33. ??
34. ??
35. ??
36. ??
37. ??
38. ??
39. ??
40. Celebrate turning 40! - DONE!!

I still have a few things to come up with (as you can see)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Funny How Life Changes

Still no Internet access at home, yet home is where I get all my ideas of what to write. By the time I get to the library my ideas are gone! Guess I better get some of that old fashioned paper stuff and start writing them down...

It's been a busy month. My spinning classes are almost done and my results have improved dramatically!!
It's hard to tell in a picture, but the spindle on the bottom is actually quite full and I will need to wind off soon so that I can fill it again and they learn how to ply. I hate the spindle on the top... it's too light & doesn't spin well. You can't see it in the picture really, but I'm having a really hard time getting a consistent product on that spindle.

I also started my new journal for the year and got out some of my mixed media supplies:

It's been a long time since I played with paint and it was really fun. I need to make sure that I set up a painting area in my studio... whenever I get that done!

Other than the artsy things going on in life... I've just been out there enjoying LIFE!!

Just spent the weekend meeting fantastic people both in Calgary and in Canmore. Went out to Canmore Saturday night to hear Donald Ray Johnson perform. What a great show! The dance floor was packed all night. I haven't danced for 4 hours in heels for a very long time and my calves hurt the next day to prove it! Good thing we were at Aimee's family condo and were able to enjoy the hot tub and steam room to recover a little. It was great to just hang out with the girls and have some honest girl-talk time as well as to let loose and have some fun!

It's amazing how, when you stop worrying so much about what other people think of you and where you belong, your world starts to open up and new and fascinating people just find their way to you. Two months ago I would have never been hanging out with artists, activists and people who live in sheds behind dome houses. I would have missed out on all of these opportunities to meet people who know who they are & aren't afraid to show it. And I would have NEVER let Theresa record me singing on her podcast (whether or not she was actually going to upload it).

Life is taking an interesting turn these days...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Happy New Year

There are definite challenges to trying to consistently blog without Internet access at home. I will be correcting that this weekend... paying off my old account and getting set up for WiFi (Squee!). That way my son and I can access all of our gadgets and I don't have a boy tying up my computer every weekend so he can watch his anime shows!

So, it's mid January in 2012 and I already have so much going on. I'm taking my spinning class now and can already see a huge improvement (practice is key). I'm going to be finishing my art studio at home this year. I have a huge quilting project in the works that I am determined to finish before July. I am turning 40 this year and plan on celebrating all year long!

Not much has changed in the past month and yet, it all feels different. Perhaps it has to do with attitude... Adjusting to a break up is hard, re-evaluating who you are and what you want from life can be hard too, but I'm getting there and I'm doing well. I have the support of great friends and the peace of knowing that for once... it wasn't me. It is possible to love someone yet know that you should not have them in your life.