Fall, autumn, time passes…

Don’t you just love that GLOW?

The air is crisp, the ground is crunchy. We had a very dry summer and it has changed the landscape this fall. For most of the summer the pond was, well, more of a puddle. Here is what it looked like last week, very little water, lots of leaves.

But happily today, after several days of rain, we have a real pond again!

Another outcome of the strange weather over the last year is the total lack of apples.

This was taken about a year ago(October 2011). More apples that I could keep up with.

and the same view September 25th 2012

Not an apple to be seen. How strange it looked!

I am looking forward to next year. A new chance at this garden. We have been here for a year now, I know what comes up where, and what I want/need to change. I have many, many plans.

So soon we will put away the chairs.

Start bringing this in load by load…..

and settle down for a long winters nap. To dream of gardens and browse seed catalogues, and craft away the evenings.

Did somebody mention Christmas! Only 68 days!

Red Currant Jelly

You may wonder what happened to those red currants?

I did manage to save some from the birds. It was a lot of work to pick even a few.

It took quite a bit of stretching and bending to find this many on the underside of the bush where birds could not find them. Then the sorting , stemming and washing. Some recipes said you could leave the stems, but I didn’t.

Really only about 2 cups of currants which made …..

exactly one jar of jelly! This is being saved for a special occasion!

Thanks to our weird spring weather I didn’t have any raspberries or blackberries, I hope they do better next year! But I did purchase some local raspberries and made some lovely jam from those.

Mmmmmm This is eaten for breakfast most days.

I have not made peach jam in many years but tried it again. Now I remember why I gave up making it. It won’t set for me. The flavour is good so I am going to use the slightly runny peach “sauce” in tarts and muffins. But the fresh peaches, they were yummy!

Red and White Currants

It is lovely weather here at Hedgehog Hill. we had a few days that were hot and very humid, but after some much-needed cloud bursts last night we are into perfect summer weather.

I am still learning what is here from the previous owners and I have been watching some vines that are on the backside of the large compost structure.

I was hoping it might be currants, and so it is!

I think currants have gone out of fashion sadly. They are a lot of work to pick, sort and preserve. I can see why they are not available in large stores, they are not easily harvested by machines. These are the things I think we should all grow if we have the space. I have never tried to make currant jelly but I think I’ll give it a try. It is a lot of work with the straining etc. But my research says currants are high in pectin and set very easily.

I also saw these, that seem to be a separate bush. At first I wondered if they might be gooseberries. But gooseberries grow in singles and have nasty thorns and are much bigger. So I am guessing white currants.

From my reading on the internet, white seem to be less common, but highly prized. I wonder if I can combine them for jelly.

I bought some Ontario strawberries last week, they were the best berries I have had in a long time. Don’t you just want to bite that one on top? I did!

These were devoured just as they are. Then I bought more and made jam. Guess what I have every morning for breakfast?

A Short Rant About Blogs

I like,- no – make that LOVE, to read blogs. I feel so connected to many of the bloggers, I see people – just like me, out there in the big world doing cool things. But my rant is about commenting on those blogs. So many times I have written a thoughtful comment only to find that the blog program won’t let me post it. It is not just those weird words you have to type in, it is choosing a profile under which to post. Even if I am signed in as Mrs Murfin I cannot post as a WordPress client. Today I was trying to post a comment on a friends blogger site and I needed to go back in my comment and add something, my cursor was frozen, I tried for several minutes to get it to work and gave up.

So to the people who comment here, I appreciate it so much! I know how frustrating it can be. To those who don’t comment – that is OK too, I know you are thinking good thoughts!

And to all of those blogs that I would like to comment on? I love what you have to say, keep saying it!

Rant over, resume your regular activities.

Here is a nice picture.

Ripple update

It seems like a long time ago I started the ripple blanket. I was just going to use up some scraps from Miss Murfin’s Christmas afghan and whip up a little lap blanket.

A few months ago it looked like this.

I used 7 colours in what I call the Lucy repeat from the lovely Attic 24 blog. This was one time through the colours.

I worked 2 times through the colours and thought, I’d like it a little bigger.

3 times and I have this monster!

6 rows of 7 colours X 3 repeats = 126 rows! Now I have all of these ends to sew in and a couple of times round the edge for a border and I am done!

It is lovely and soft and very warm when you have it spread over your lap to work on it. I need to get it finished before the really hot weather get here.

Then maybe I can get the African flower afghan done…but I also have a Cath Kidson inspired blanket in the wings. Both done with smaller individual blocks, so good projects for summer.

The first of the peonies and buzzing trees!

Peonies are one of my favourite flowers. Something about the oversize, the excess of petals, the total commitment to colour.

I feel the same way about dahlias. In my grand garden plan there will be dahlias…

For now I do have a lovely clematis. A bit washed out for my taste, but A+ for profusion.

My most recent delightful surprise were the chestnut trees. I have done a little research and I believe they will have another proper name, a particular variety, but I will lump them together as chestnuts for now until a tree expert tells me otherwise. I have never lived anywhere with a chestnut tree before and I didn’t realize the flowers were so incredibly beautiful! We have one that flowered the usual white and it was lovely.

This tree is quite large and you can easily stand underneath it. When in full bloom the tree buzzed; it hummed with hundreds, possibly thousands, of satisfied bees. I could not believe it the first time I stood there and realised what I was hearing. They were so intent at their work they paid no attention to the silly human grinning up at them.

But wait there’s more….

We have several of these – PINK chestnuts. I have no idea how rare they are, but I looked around during the blooming season and could not see another anywhere I went. They are probably not rare at all. I went photo nuts!

How gorgeous is that?!

Princess Crookshanks contemplating her next move. Nap, or chase birds?

Note: I know Crookshanks is a male cat in the Harry Potter books, but when we got her as a kitten about 11 years ago we were reading the series as they were published and any cat we got was going to be Crookshanks. She is the smartest cat in the world and speaks english. True story.

Year round beauty

Remember last winter when I was obsessed with taking pictures of the bright red berries? Partly because they were the only colour in the yard, and they were beautiful, and red is my favourite colour….

Turns out they have a very pretty flower in May.

even prettier up close.

And the scent was intoxicating! So sweet and delicate. I’m kind of sad this bush is around my compost pile! I would love it out front where people can see it.

My sister-in-law told me they are High Bush Cranberries and when I looked that up it said the berries stink when you cook them. Maybe that is why the flowers smell so sweet, to make up for the stinky berries…

A Woman in Love…

gets distracted by little things,

The only lilacs I was able to cut this year. I think some buds were frosted like the magnolia.

The irises are stunning. And so many different colours, from the common two toned purple, to a deep solid purple, and a dark crimson that I have never seen before in an iris.

Even a scraggly rhododendron. (the bush not this flower) Lovely but short-lived.

I planted some,


and some show up on their own.

There is beauty in some that may be called a weed.

Why not just sit a while and drink it all in? A woman in love with flowers.

The ONLY way to cook asparagus

Well Hello!

So my brother was here the other day as I was peering at the weeds in the garden. I explained I was looking for the asparagus. I know it is in there, I saw the tall ferny ends last fall. I was getting impatient. He gamely helped me look, but we could not find any. He also claimed that he really doesn’t like asparagus, but that his wife (who is a smashingly good cook) believes he does. Or at least it keeps turning up on his plate.

I must invite them to dinner sometime and try roasted asparagus on him, maybe I can convert him yet.

Jump ahead a week or two and we are finding the elusive spears amongst the dandelions and thistles. It is a sport for me to head out with my container and sharp knife to hunt the delicious asparagus.

It was a good bunch today. Unlike asparagus from the store it is not all uniform in size or length. I found one today that was almost two feet high!

Now maybe you steam your asparagus, or maybe you saute it; but for me roasting is the only way to fly. I pre-heat my oven to about 425 degree farenheit and trim the stalks so the fit into a casserole. You could also do this on a cookie sheet if you had a lot.

I drizzle with a little olive oil. And here comes the secret ingredient….. Montreal Steak spice. It is the same spice blend used when making Montreal smoked meats that so many love as a deli meat. The ingredients vary by manufacture but will likely contain some combination of dried garlic, coriander, black pepper, red pepper flakes, dill, and salt.

I learned this secret from Miss Murfin’s boyfriend AKA – The Big Newfie. He has worked for a number of years in various restaurant kitchens to put himself through university and he has picked up some serious cooking skills on the way. He made dinner for the family over Christmas holidays. One taste of his roasted asparagus and I was hooked.

Five to ten minutes in the hot oven and you have perfection. Unlike steaming, it is hard to over cook it like this. I check on it every couple of minutes, and give it a shake half way through cooking. The thicker stalks are tender and juicy, it hasn’t absorbed any water so it retains all of the gorgeous flavour. The potatoes and chicken seemed dull beside it.

mmmmmm we ate the asparagus first.

All the Bloomin’ Things

Spring played a nasty trick on us in March and dropped a few July type days on us then retreated behind the skirts of Mother Nature and froze my magnolia. I have forgiven spring because she is back and the blooms are everywhere.

Today was a gorgeous day. I spent most of it in my car driving around this part of south-western Ontario gazing at fields of freshly plowed earth. Some are soft chocolate-brown, some are deep ebony, all make we want to stop the car and sink my hands in the dirt right up to my elbows. Time to get into some serious gardening. But since my garden is not tilled yet, I had to be happy with planting theses.

I just love those faces.

Much more around Hedgehog Hill.

How can life be anything but wonderful when you are surrounded by beauty like this?