October 28, 2014

Seasons' Bounty

Think I'm ready for winter? :)

As you can see, I was pretty busy this season, trying to preserve the best of the summer produce.  And I think I was quite successful.  All the fruit and vegetables for these little jewels of yumminess came from Wiley Farms--a small family farm about three miles from my house.

Seeing that this is only the second year I've done any canning in my life, I think my pantry looks pretty good for the winter ahead.  And I had so much fun doing this.  I canned 30 quarts of fresh tomatoes, 22 quarts of several different types of tomato sauces, and over 50 jars of assorted jams, preserves and conserves.  Some of them are pretty unique such as basil/peach jam; nectarine/saffron jam; tomato and caramelized onion conserve; blueberry mojito jam; savory peach chutney; spicy dill relish and the list goes on.  I have given away many jars already and will gift more for Christmas presents.  My family and friends seem to appreciate getting them and I love making them and giving them away.  And of course my husband loves sampling each new jar that I open.  I've had a few people suggest that I make this a small business and sell them.  But that would make it too much like work and take all the fun out of it.  I think I'll just keep making them and giving them away.  Any takers? :)

October 19, 2014

Dark Clouds and Sunshine

I have not posted anything on this blog since we arrived back in Michigan in May.  I've thought about it many times, but I simply never took the time to sit down and write.  I guess I was too busy doing other things.  Mostly enjoying the Michigan spring, summer and fall; being with family; traveling; visiting with my kids and grandkids; hanging out on the lake; canning and preserving; welcoming a new grand baby, etc.  But here we are again, late Fall, gearing up for our departure from our beautiful, adopted state of Michigan to return to Texas for the winter and I've written nothing about what I've done, what I've seen, how I feel, where I'm at, etc.  My excuses are pretty lame so I won't even try to defend them.  And since I write this blog mostly for me anyway, it really doesn't matter what my excuses are.

I love everything about my life here in Michigan~~the climate; small town charm; bountiful produce; Wiley Farms; my lake; Harry's wonderful Family who have welcomed me as one of their own.  But the one thing missing is my friends.  I miss my friends in Texas.   My circle is not very big.  But there are a handful of people that have been close friends for a long time; some of them over 20 years.  Gabriella and I became friends when we were both single moms with 5-year olds; now we are both grandmothers.  Shelly and I have been friends for over 17 years; Cheryl and Tommy and I became friends when she and Tommy came over to my home and he hung a ceiling fan for me.  That was 25 years ago and I was newly divorced with two 4-year olds and just starting over.  That's a lot of life to share.  Besides my wonderful family here~~Esther, Debbie, Julie, Sara and their families whom I love so much; I've made a couple of new friends~~Caroline and Janice~~that I like very much and look forward to getting to know better as the years go on.  But it takes nearly a lifetime to establish and nurture the kind of friendships I have in Texas.

As Harry and I begin to think about packing up and heading South for the winter, I have conflicting feelings.  I'm sad to leave behind everything I love about my life in Michigan.  Because when we leave, people's lives up here don't stop.  They go on~~ the kids get a little older, the family keeps getting together to celebrate birthdays and holidays, friends get together for dinner~~ and we miss all of that.  Sometimes I fear that they will forget us and then we have to reestablish relationships when we return in the spring.  For the most part that's probably irrational thinking, but on some days it's very real to me.  But the conflict comes into play because I am so looking forward to seeing my friends again and spending time with them.  I don't want to say I look forward to leaving Michigan, but I can say I am happy that I will see my friends very soon.

As you can see, there is conflict.  And I don't want to appear that I am complaining.  I'm not.  I recognize the fact that I am very lucky to have the wonderful people and relationships in my life in both Michigan and Texas and for that I am so grateful.  But this photograph of my lake reflects my mood and my feelings at this moment in time~~a mix of dark clouds and sunshine.