Brightening my morning, or, fancy labeling of coffee canisters so I don’t drink caffeinated coffee on accident and consequently our son is awake for hours

That might be the world’s longest blog title. Breastfeeding moms out there, I’m sure you understand.

Anyway, this was a quick little project I did to make sure my husband and I don’t confuse our different coffees since the beans are kept in identical canisters. I drink decaf, both because I’m breastfeeding and also because caffeine does weird things to me that don’t bear mentioning on this blog. My husband, the lucky b@stard, drinks caffeinated like a normal person. I suppose the perk for me is that when I absolutely need some caffeine, it actually works!

First I chose two fun papers I had in my stash for the lid tops. I meant for the purple one to go on my canister and the yellow on my husband’s so we could associate the sunny yellow lid with caffeine and the moody, purple lid with decaf, but it turns out the canister lids are not interchangeable between the jars. So until we both run out of coffee and can swap the jars, it’s the opposite for now: my decaf has the yellow lid and Shawn’s the purple.

I traced the circles with a coffee mug. Then I used Mod Podge, which is glorious stuff, to affix the paper circles to the jars. I painted the Mod Podge on the lid, not the paper, with a foam brush (which I quickly rinsed well so I can use it again) After affixing the paper to the lids, I painted over the top of the paper, too, so that if the lids get splashed (they reside near the sink), it won’t ruin the paper. I won’t be scrubbing the lids in the sink any time soon, but at least I can wipe them down and not worry about ruining the paper.

And here’s the finished product!

This was a five-minute project, but it was worth it! It’s the little things in life, you know.

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Renovation of the world

“There is, indeed, something inexpressibly pleasing in the annual renovation of the world, and the new display of the treasures of nature.” – Samuel Johnson

A week ago, before planting the transplants I bought, my husband built up five more beds in the garden.

We ran out of the horse manure compost that a friend with a horseback riding operation gave us, so we used organic compost from a local gardening shop in these beds. We laid a thin layer of compost, and I added some organic bone meal, too. I did this, because, as mentioned before, my soil test showed that the garden’s soil was lacking in nitrogen and phosphorus.

Here’s yours truly spreading the compost. Yes, I am wearing a fleece. Why? Because up here at 48 degrees (latitude), that’s also been the high temperature for a while. We have glorious autumns here, but cold and wet springs. In fact, there’s a winter weather advisory in our area today. Sigh.

Here’s the garden as it was about a week ago after planting the transplants. I apologize I haven’t posted this sooner, but I’ve been busy, ya know. The garden looks much the same now, except the lettuces and carrots are coming up, as are the onion sets and the buckwheat. And the weeds. Oh the weeds. I weeded for half an hour yesterday and got one half of one bed done. Well, that’s what I get for not weeding for a week: Now I get to spend my free time weeding!

Of the transplants I planted: I planted a pumpkin, a zucchini, a squash, two tomatoes, a pepper, mint, cilantro, shallots – all of these from the local Terrapin Farm. From a local greenhouse, I planted corn, more squash, cucumbers, cabbage, lavender, parsley, basil, oregano, and dill.

From seed I planted spinach, red romaine, rainbow chard, ruby red chard, carrots, acorn squash, cucumbers, snow peas, blue lake bush beans, onion (from sets, technically), sunflowers, and a bunch of wildflowers on the outside perimeter.

Here’s the herb garden we planted. In it there’s parsley, basil, oregano, cilantro, lavender, mint, and dill. We love to use fresh herbs in our cooking.

Here are the corn transplants. I will not be doing these again. At least not transplants that are this big. These transplants have taken an absolute beating with wind and rain, and yesterday, hail. They don’t have the established roots they need to stand up to the beatings, which, looking at the weather report, will continue until morale improves. Lesson learned.

And yesterday it hailed for fifteen minutes. The hail was about blueberry size. Big enough to cause some damage. I think I lost a squash plant, probably some of the corn, and time will tell what else I’ve lost once the lake in the middle of the garden recedes. We also had a bird get in the house, trying to escape the hail (we had the door open because we were standing on the porch watching the hail come down). It flapped around inside for a few minutes until we could get it out. Hopefully the hail didn’t kill it! It is supposed to rain more today (and snow up high). The picture below shows the hail. And the puddles full of hail that are probably three or four inches deep.

It’s supposed to warm up in the next few days. Hopefully, if everything didn’t drown, I’ll see some real growth out there!

Chili League (and new holidays)

On Wednesday this past week, us folks in northwest Montana created a new holiday (well, the credit really goes to Hilary at Outside Media): “406 Day.” Wednesday was April 6, so, 4-06. And Montana’s area code is 406, so it’s the new Montana holiday. And to celebrate, we had the Chili League finals.

What’s Chili League you might ask? It’s a bunch of us (upwards of 40 or 50 people) getting together on a Friday to enjoy each others’ company and to put our best chili recipes to the test. In the past few months, we’ve tried probably a dozen different chilis, all fabulous. Some were red chilis, some were green. I think there was even a white chili, too. Some had meat, some were vegetarian (and had squash!). One didn’t have any beans (“true chilis don’t have beans”). Some were fairly simple recipes (like mine – the secret weapon is Indian chili powder) and others took days of experimentation. All chilis were creatively named (ours was dubbed “Afterburn”).

So the winners from each “heat” competed Wednesday.

Buck Fever, Chili Supresa and (well, I’m forgetting the name of the third chili… someone remind me!) went head to head. The competition was fierce. Brows shone with a sheen of sweat (from the competition? from the heat?).

And Buck Fever claimed the victory. A melange of venison, antelope and elk, the bean-less chili took the crown. Its maker, Erik Lorona, is pictured below with his lovely wife Aubrie. He’s holding the Chili League trophy, from which he’s required to eat his chili during next year’s competition.

During the summer, after all, Chili League becomes Barbecue League. Ladies and gents, fire up your grills!

I also made orange rolls for the event. Here’s a before-I-baked-them photo. I like how you can see the little flecks of grated orange peel in the dough. Alas, there’s no “after” photo because folks inhaled them! But I guess that’s a good thing!