Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Build it up, then tear it all down...

I got quite a bit of the garden situated for winter today. I have only 2 more beds to tear down before the snow flies. The zucchini/bean bed is waiting patiently for me... and the snap peas are still blooming. We had a really hard frost last night, so I won't be able to harvest peas for very much longer, but right now they are sweet and wonderful!

I finally turned on the main heater in the house, but set it at 66F and turn it back off during the day, like the fireplace. Winter is coming, like it or not!

Friday, September 25, 2009


It is most definitely getting colder outside. Earlier this week, the air changed. It went from cool summer air, to cold crisp fall air. You can smell the snow creeping down the mountain, and it is getting downright COLD at night. I still haven't turned the heater on yet. I've been baking every day and the heat from the oven is still enough to keep the house warm enough. I have turned on the fireplace in the bedroom the last 2 nights, but that's more for being cozy than for being cold. I am really a cheapskate when it comes to heating fuel. My husband hates it, and secretly turns up the heat when he thinks he can get away with it, but I always turn it right back down! I figure, especially with fuel prices the way they are these days (gasoline is running $3.36 a gallon right now, and heating fuel isn't far behind...) our pocketbooks will thank us if we just put on a sweater. Lily has lots of cute, warm footie pajamas that will keep her warm, and Stephen likes it a little cooler like I do.

I have been letting the dogs stay in the house for most of the day now. Boss is almost 10 and has cancer. The cold last year nearly crippled him. I honestly don't think he will make it through another winter. That's a hard thing to come to terms with. I rescued Boss when he was 8 months old, and he has been the best dog I have ever known. I'll just keep him comfortable as long as I can, and know in my heart that that old dog had a good life because of me. He used to go on sleep-overs to Stephen's cousin's house. I have pictures of them in bed with Boss snuggled up under the covers, happy as a clam, and twice the size of the kids!

My husband mentioned that we might get another dog when Boss passes on, but honestly, I don't think I want to. Lady is quite a handful, although she is getting more mellow as she gets older (finally!) I do need a dog for protection around here, but Lady is 140 pounds, and can do the job quite nicely on her own. She is quite fond of scaring the crap out of tresspassers! She is not mean at all, but they don't know that when she walks up to them and looks them in the eye, and is the same size as them! She has the intimidation thing down nicely... she gets about 3 feet away and just stares! (We don't have tresspassers all that often any more, but it was a real problem last year... mostly punks on four-wheelers or snowmachines tearing up the driveway, with no concept of private property or respecting the rights of others.)

All in all, life is good here at Woodside Gardens. We are content and happy, and ready for the change of seasons. Lots of stuff to do around the house still before the snow flies, but that seems to be a never ending chore, and sure to get worse once the chickens are here. I have all winter to convince Rob to build that chicken coop in the spring!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Its official!

There is officially frost on my car this morning! Autumn is here, snow will not be far behind. Bring it on!!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

No luck this year...

Rob is still out hunting, but is getting ready to head back home. Looks like no moose this winter. Its a bit disappointing, but since this was his first year hunting, it isn't all that surprising. It would have been nice to have moose in the freezer, along with the salmon that we depend on every winter, but maybe we'll have the opportunity next year. Rob did say that next year he is entering for the permits for the land close to our home, so he can go every evening. We see so many moose on our road, it is much more likely that he will get one that way. That is one of the things I love about living where I live. My road goes back into the wilderness for several miles before you see any sort of civilization. There is wildlife everywhere! I see fox, moose, bear, owl, eagle, porcupine, spruce hen (stupid road chickens), or hawk etc etc, most every day that I leave the house. In Alaska, you don't have to go far to find the untamed country, and many of us, like me, are lucky enough to live right in the middle of it!

I got out most of my "fall" decorations this weekend. The subtle colors in my house have changed to the oranges, browns, reds and greens of the season. I don't go overboard, but the little changes make a difference in the feel of things. Everything is just a little more cozy today than yesterday. And I even turned on the fireplace in my bedroom for the first time since early spring! I turn my heat off completely in May every year, and the first time the fireplace comes back on is a sure sign of things to come. It will still be a few weeks, however, before I turn the main heater back on... have to conserve energy as much as I can!

I baked the first pumpkin pie of the season last night, made from fresh pumpkin rather than canned (of course.) Pumpkin is something I would eventually like to grow in my garden, but I think I will have to build a raised bed designed especially for this lovely orange orb. Next year I am building the raspberry beds, so maybe I will put in a pumpkin patch the following year. One step at a time, my garden will get bigger and bigger! Living on gravel like I do gives me the unique opportunity to situate my garden exactly how I want it, where I want it, which is kind of exciting! I wonder what my yard will look like ten years from now!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Yeah, so I lied... what can I say?

Yes, I know that in my last post I said I was done canning for the season, but I just couldn't help myself!

Cinnamon Red Hot Apples

This is a recipe I have been dying to try, so I went ahead and made it up. These are so incredibly good, I can't even describe it! I think I'm going to make some of them into an apple strudel for Rob tonight. He's headed out early tomorrow morning for another try at a moose, so he'll want a hearty dinner tonight and a good breakfast in the morning. He has really come to appreciate my home-cooked meals. Fresh food makes all the difference in the world!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I think I'm about jellied out...

Crabapple Jelly!!!

We got 2 batches of Crabapple Jelly done today. Mom looks glad to be done, as you can see from the photo above! I think this will be the last of the canning for the season, unless Rob gets a moose this weekend. I am definitely getting burnt out!

Oh, for the love of crabapples!!!

I was given a large amount of crabapples over the weekend. The owner of the tree loves the blossoms, but doesn't touch the apples! Lucky me!

Spiced Crabapples

Yesterday I made Spiced Crabapples, and today its Crabapple Jelly, with a bit of the syrup from the Spiced Crabapples. Its going to be yummy! I'll probably end up making regular jelly as well, for those who don't like cinnamon.

Once all the canning for the season is done, I'll have to post a picture of my pantry, with all the glass jars lined up. It really is a beautiful sight!

Friday, September 11, 2009


Although this is not the usual subject of my writings, today is a day we need to talk about, a day we need to remember forever. This morning I was reading the blogs I follow, and several of them had pictures or videos from this horrible day. My five year old son asked what the pictures were, and I almost told him "nothing, don't worry about it". But I stopped myself. If we don't teach our children about the good and the bad of this world, how will they know what to expect when they get older? I told him what happened, and why it happened, and we found a video that showed clips of the whole thing. He watched quietly, and hugged me when he saw the tears in my eyes. I told him that we need to always remember this day, and remember the people that sacrifice everything to keep it from happening again. I love my country, and I hope that my son will grow up to love her also.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cranberry-Apple Butter

The most recent project has been Alaskan Cranberry Apple Butter. The high-bush cranberries (which I have learned aren't really cranberries at all) were picked here in my yard. You have probably noticed by now that my un-landscaped land provides quite a bounty of wild food every year. The apples were picked from my aunts house in Palmer. They are Parkland apples, grafted onto a crabapple root, so that they will survive our -30F or colder winter temperatures.

I baked some pork chops last night, smothered in this wonderful stuff, and my son couldn't contain his amazement over how good it tasted!

Friday, September 4, 2009

38 Principles of Self-Sufficiency

Copy and paste this link to a very good post about self sufficiency...


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What a difference a deck makes!

I was recalling earlier what the front of the house looked like at the beginning of the year. It is amazing what a weekend project can do for appearances, and functionality as well! Rob built me a front deck for my birthday this year, to replace the pallet (which I detested) that served the purpose when we bought the place. It took him a day and a half to build, but its like we added a whole new room!

Here's the before and after pictures...



We have so many landscaping plans for this pile of rocks we live on, its hard to decide what to tackle first. We mostly want to get in the gardens first, but this was much needed, and much appreciated! It helps keep the house a little cleaner in the summer, also, because I leave my front doors open thanks to the lack of mosquitoes in this particular spot. I didn't realize quite how drastic the transformation was until I looked at both of these pictures together.