A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota Idaho, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Family Visit

We've been busy preparing for the upcoming school year here at the Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes homestead.  Back-to-school prep and harvesting the late summer bounty in the garden was work enough, then we had family come for a week to visit!  My sister, brother-in-law and my two awesome nephews, 2 and a half, and 8 months, all visited last week.  It was great to see them and we had a blast, but I'm still recovering.
Our awesome little nephew Jacob will be the focal point of many of these pictures since he's pretty cute and all.  Plus you want to see a little kid trying on cowboy hats and hugging people, not me.   
We took every opportunity to tire out the little tyke, including having him run up the dyke wall.  For the record, no they didn't roll back down the hill.  Cookies surely would have been tossed. 
We picked corn near Cavalier, North Dakota.
Alycia and Jacob posed in front of the aquarium at the local Cabela's store, always a must see for folks from out of town.  
And Alycia got to spend some quality time with awesome little(r) nephew James.  It was a very good, but tiring, week. For childless folks like Alycia and I, it was quite an assignment keeping up with two vigorous youngsters.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

500th Blog Post

This is our 500th blog post. In my noble quest to come up with something memorable, worthy of a 500th post, I struggled for a week and came up with...nothing.  My usual writing technique that involves drinking several cups of black coffee (Raven's Brew - Dead Man's Reach) and waiting for the magic to happen just didn't pan out this time.  Each passing day brought more angst as every idea seemed less and less worthy of such a milestone post. 

We've got the typical litany of excuses too.  School is right around the corner and Alycia and I are making all the requisite preparations whilst battling the back-to-work-blahs (I know, I know, we've had the whole summer off while you've had to work, so I know exactly where I can go shove it).  Family is coming today for an extended visit, so we're preparing the house and grounds for a busy 3 year old and searching for activities that will tire out a busy tot and entertain out of town guests.  All the while the garden keeps producing and we try to keep up with canning and freezing and pickling and weeding. 

Now for a self indulgent look back at our humble origins. To be honest, I never thought back in 2008 that I'd write this much or for this long.  I look back on my first post with a feeling that borders on mild embarrassment.  Heck I'd barely figured out how to post pictures at that point.  In fact the digital camera that I received as a present that year is still in use as the official Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes camera.  The camera, like me, has definitely seen better days.

The "Gluten Free Girlfriend" who initially requested blog anonymity (thus the original eponymous moniker) has not only become a writing contributor to our blog but has also received a long overdue promotion to Gluten Free Wife.  I have pictures to prove it, see below.  She was a humble grad student when we first met and now she's about to go up for tenure. 
It may sound cliched to say that we've come a long way, but we have, literally and figuratively.  North Dakota is one of the last places I ever thought I'd move, but we've made a lovely home here.  There's happy dogs scampering about, thunderstorms, homemade jam, lots of chuckling, snow days, and an overwhelming feeling of contentment.  Fun stories are even more fun when you have people to share them with, so thanks for being part of Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes, reading and being part of the fun.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Raspberry Currant and Blueberry Currant Jam

It's been a busy stretch here at the Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes homestead.  We made Homemade Strawberry Jam last week and completed the jamming triumvirate this week by making Raspberry Currant jam and Blueberry Currant jam.

Alycia visited a friend a couple of times who has extensive raspberry bushes in their yard and picked about 6 quarts of berries each visit.  We froze some of the berries and used our trusty Raspberry Currant Jam recipe to make the rest into jam.

But before we made our jam we had to harvest our currants.  We "currantly" (in case you were wondering, yes you should be laughing now) have four, two red and two black, currant bushes producing berries with another two that should be online next year.  The red currants taste better, but the black currants have more pectin and in order to balance them out to get the right flavor/pectin relationship I usually go 50/50 red and black currants.
Here's one of our red currant bushes, loaded with berries.  It took Alycia and I less than an hour to harvest all the berries from both bushes. 
Alycia harvesting berries.  I picked them too, just pausing to snap this picture.  Between the strawberries, raspberries, and currants Alycia was quite the busy little berry picker this summer.  I'd like to think she's getting pretty good at it. 
Here's the some of the proceeds of our currant harvesting.  Enough for several batches of jam.  Luckily we had lovely jam making weather, unseasonably cool and breezy, so it wasn't such a terrible chore for me to labor over a hot stove for hours.
We have about 50 jars (mostly half-pint - and they couldn't all fit in the picture) of  various jams occupying the pantry.  Knowing that we have a years worth of delicious homemade jam makes me pretty dang happy.  Our next posting at Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes is a pretty special one, our 500th.