Month: July 2013

Tiny flower bed – a 5 minute, $5 project

imageSometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference…am I right?! There’s a teeny tiny flower bed right outside my front door that I kinda neglected. It’s an odd shape made when installing and squaring off the interlocking patio pavers. No excuse to ignore it, but that’s what I’ve done. Until now! Since it’s the first thing I see when I leave home, I decided to show it some love and add color. Nothing earth shattering here but definitely an improvement. And because it’s getting late in the season and bedding plants are all on sale, this cost me a mere $5!
imageimageI chose begonias with dark foliage and white flowers plus bright marigolds to tie in with ┬áthe black, white and yellow theme going on out there. Both can tolerate shade, drought and neglect (but I’m motivated to take care of them)! What little changes are brightening your day?

Blueberry – picking and jam

imageSaturday found me in a blueberry patch, satisfying my curiosity. We got a notice at work about a new you-pick blueberry farm that just happens to be in the very neighbourhood where I grew up. I had to check it out. When I lived in this little suburbia, it had a couple of properties with sheep and horses but was mostly family homes on quiet streets and cul de sacs. More and more houses went up by the time I’d moved on….like 25 years ago. Imagine my surprise to find that there’s still a 16 acre parcel of farmland tucked way at the end of the road that I never even knew existed.

If you’re local, I encourage you to check it out at the very end of Beckwith, off Quadra Street. Two young couples have just purchased the property and are planning to build a dream there. I met Brent, who has a 10 year plan for more crops and livestock. I look forward to watching this place develop and supporting it along the way. Pretty inspiring stuff.

imageOh, and the berries are great. If you haven’t picked before, blueberries are a good choice. The picking is so easy and the ripe ones practically fall off the bush into your basket. Generally the biggest, darkest berries are the best. I take a bit of extra time picking to discard any stems and bits so the cleaning and cooking is easy, but that’s the OCD in me!

I made a batch of jam with some of them. Here’s the recipe I’ve adapted from a syrup recipe. It’s my favorite because of the small amount of sugar it calls for. Most jams want almost as much sugar as fruit but I want to taste the berries, not just sweetness!

  • 5 cups blueberries, washed and any stems or leaves removed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 whole lemon, juiced
  1. Put blueberries and water in a large pot and crush the berries with a potato masher.
  2. Bring to a boil then add the sugar and juice from the lemon. Let this boil hard for about 20 minutes stirring often. This will bubble and spurt so wear an oven mitt while stirring. It will get darker and thicker.
  3. Use a funnel and ladle to pour the jam into clean jars. Seal with a lid. Stores in the fridge for up to 3 months or can it for longer storage. Makes about 3 cups, double it for a larger batch.

imageThe rest of my crop is being eaten fresh or being frozen for smoothies and baking. I like squirelling away some tastes of summer to pull out and enjoy in winter. Mmm!

Hanging baskets on a budget

imageEvery year I treat myself to a couple of hanging flower baskets for the patio. Nothing too extravagant or fancy, I just like a little colour and the bit of privacy they give between my place and next door. When I went to buy them this year they were all really expensive so in the spirit of keeping to my budget, I decided to do without. But then…..I came across these pans at my grocery store for just $6. Hmmmmm, now that’s affordable!

imageI scooped up two and after a bit of deadheading, I planted them into last year’s hanging pots. A week later, after lots of sun and water, they’ve settled in quite nicely!

imageimageimageAnd you know something? I actually like them more because they were dirt cheap (gardening pun!). Getting a good deal has become a sport for me. What can I say, I’m cheap and I know it. I smile every time I see these knowing I didn’t break the bank. Two hanging baskets for $12! Yay to frugal flowers!