Small Town Living

Oh the joys of living in a small town. Ok so I don’t have the big department stores like Target and Bed Bath and Beyond (cries a little), or even a variety of restaurants. But I have people. People that are not caught up in the hustle and bustle, and work to make a difference. Whether that is by helping others,  animals, or just providing entertainment.

We have, of course, our Master Gardeners and Master Food Preservers. These are volunteers who put in hours of their time to help folk with their gardening, orchard, insect, weed issues and how to safely preserve food either by dehydrating or canning.

Then there is the Duchess Sanctuary. They provide sanctuary for horses in need, using “best practices” for equine management while preserving and protecting the environment for the benefit of the native plant and animal species.

And for the smaller pets you must check out Saving Grace Pet Adoption.

The Oakland News Gazette is a great community page. They are constantly giving updates on animals that need help, sister community events and really support the town.

Did I mention that when you live in a small town and drive by someone you might remotely know they wave! They wave like they’re happy to see you and they use ALL their fingers.

There ya have it. A few links, some great folks and peek into the rural life.

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People…

I am so very fortunate. I know that some out there do read my blog, for whatever reason. Perhaps a random search that pointed them my way, or a friend of friend who’s curious. Either way I’m grateful. Not because they read it, that’s GREAT, but because I’ve reached some more than others. I won’t mention names but I had one the most fun conversations with a woman who contacted me about my old stove. She had recently purchased one similar and had questions. Then there was the man who contacted me about becoming a Master Gardener, we’ve exchanged several emails. And yet another couple who wanted to get a greenhouse and we also ended up chatting for about 45 minutes. It made me feel happy to know that, maybe, in small way I helped them.

It became a day of reflection for me.  Then I saw a video of people doing acts of kindness towards others, like stopping their car in the middle of the street to help an elderly woman cross, or a lone man pushing his car thru the snow only to have 3 people stop, jump out of their cars in the cold to help, and a woman who just sat down with and elderly man in the park and took his hand, it made me sad. I cried…no I wept.

I was even more sad when I realized why the tears streamed down my face. It was not only because I watched something that touch the heart, but more importantly because I was watching some rare…wait rare? Yes rare! In our fast paced world today of tweets, blogs, Facebook and all the social media we have our faces buried in technology. We would rather not miss the all important text of WYA and BRT, than to look up and perhaps see someone who needs our aid. Whether to cross the street, or help load groceries into the car or just smile at them and tell them they look nice.

While I am all for bringing awareness to specific needs like cancer and ALS, it saddens me when I see people making more of themselves dumping ice water on their heads than the reason they are doing it. Now it’s more about them making their video’s getting all the ‘likes’ and attention on themselves rather than the reason. Narcissism at it’s finest.

I reflected more…then smiled. I, too, am guilty of ‘being in a hurry.’ But for the last few weeks I’ve made more of an effort to be there for my fellow humans. Be there for them, not for my FB page.

And with that I leave you with this challenge – what will you do now?

 

Preserving Blackberries – Sort Of…

I love blackberries. I even enjoy picking them. Of course when it’s hot and I’m competing with the bugs and the deer maybe not so much.

But there is quiet contemplation in searching for the hidden plump gems. Quiet in between “Ouch!” “Dang IT!” “Are you serious?! You have to wrap AROUND my leg?!” “Oh for the love of Pete! All that to cut a clump to have half of them fall off?!”

Today it was all worth it. Well, actually the ones I picked last week. Today’s harvest is in a pie, freezer and BBQ sauce tomorrow. But last weeks berries, picked while it was warm and sunny became this.

The essence of summer - Sweet Black Berry Liqueur.

The essence of summer – Sweet Black Berry Liqueur.

Note – I did not muddle my berries on this batch and was so happy with the clarity. I also add everything at once and let it sit in my fridge for week, giving a very slight swirl every other day. Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 cups blackberries
3/4 cup brandy
2 cups vodka
zest of one lime without pith – just use long strips, not a grater
1 cup simple syrup – 1 cup sugar/1 cup water heat till sugar dissolves and let cool completely.

Procedures

1 – Place the blackberries and lime zest in a seal-able glass jar, muddle lightly to release juice, and then add brandy and vodka. Seal and shake. Let mixture steep for 3 days at room temperature away from direct sunlight. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing down to extract juice, then filter mixture through a coffee filter or through two layers of cheesecloth. Discard solids.

2 – Combine blackberry infusion and simple syrup in a seal-able bottle or jar, then shake to mix. Let rest for a minimum of one day. Store in the refrigerator for up to two months.

I hope this inspires you to find other ways of enjoying the fruits of summer. If you’d like to join the conversation come over to the Facebook page and chime in!

Ripen on the Vine or the Table!

For those who have lots of tomatoes, but the heat that is not letting them ripen, or they are splitting, here is some excellent advice! This works!

Debbie's Back Porch

If you asked most home gardeners why they started gardening, they will tell you, for a good tomato.

Truth is, you just about cannot buy a good tomato, unless you have a good farmers’ market close by.  Many people believe that is because a tomato must be vine ripened to have that home grown taste.  Not so, my gardening friends.  Grocery store tomatoes taste like liquid cardboard because they were bred for appearance, not flavor.  Commercial growers supply what they can sell, and most people won’t buy an irregularly shaped tomato, with streaks of color and thin fragile skin.  You know, like the ones we tomato snobs demand.

So, you plant some tomato seedlings with great hope and expectation.  They grow and get beautiful as Spring turns into Summer. Your first green tomatoes appear and every morning you go outside and check for growth, counting the days for that first…

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