Out in Space, Back on Land

Out in Space – Now With More Clusters!

Last night, we went to the Goethe Link Observatory for some star gazing with fellow star geeks. Keep in mind, I am more or less just along for the ride when it comes to star gazing. I enjoy staring up into space, to be sure, and I especially appreciate stars of the shooting variety. Chris is really the expert, though, when it comes to all things telescope-y; he needs to do a proper update about sun funnels, Venus transits, and all that lovely jazz (hint, hint).

20120611. Goethe Link Observatory, Martinsville, IN.

My favorite finds of the evening: M7, or Ptolemy’s Cluster. I found this cluster by accident with Chris’ awesome binoculars. My method of star gazing basically means I wildly scan all over the sky with the scope or binoculars until something different crosses my field of vision. This was definitely something different. M7 is a relatively close 800 to 1000 light-years away and resides within the Orion spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy. You can see it with the naked eye at the end of the stinger on Scorpio. Ptolemy first mentioned it in 130 AD.

From NASA’s Astronomy Photo of the Day.

Saturn never ceases to amaze, too. I actually found this one the other night from our backyard. I pointed the telescope at what looked like just another bright star… and realized something was off. It had a RING. And that is how we found Saturn. While it wasn’t QUITE this clear, we could see the rings and several of Saturn’s bazillion moons.

From NASA’s Astronomy Photo of the Day.

Chris’ fave: the Coat Hanger Asterism. This was totally viewable with binoculars (actually, we couldn’t see it with the telescope because it zoomed in too far). Like the Big Dipper, this is really just a chance alignment of stars rather than a cluster. So sparkly, so pretty.

From NASA’s Astronomy Photo of the Day.

Back on Land

Last night, our heads were in the stars. This morning, I was decidedly back on Earth, digging in the dirt first thing (er… at 10:30 AM – hey, whatever, we didn’t even get home until 3 AM!) and planting beet seeds, turnips, and cabbage. Our garden is starting to get its legs, and I have green tomatoes, tons of baby yellow squash, harvestable green beans, hot peppers, and basil that is just screaming to be made into gallons upon gallons of pesto.

Which brings me to the updated canning report, now with hot peppers!

June 2012:

  • Honeyed Green Hot Peppers (2 jars) – Canned today, I used a modified recipe for honeyed jalapeno pepper halves from my Canning for a New Generation book (I cut out the allspice). This is one of the best things I canned last fall when, faced with a killer frost, I was forced to harvest over 200 green cayenne peppers. I am totally not sure if I’m using the right recipe, but I really hope I am!
  • Pickled Beets (2 jars)
  • Classic Pickle Spears (3 jars)

Canning Report, Mid-June

Canning season is upon us! I’m going to keep a running list this summer of all things canned – you know, just for kicks. And to feel like I actually accomplished something this summer.

June 2012:

  • Pickled Beets (2 jars) – Using the recipe from the Ball Jar Canning cookbook. These things are delicious! I’ve been scooping them out of the jar with a fork and eating them straight.
  • Classic Pickle Spears (3 jars) – I totally cheated on these by using a packet of pickling spices I bought last spring. We’ll see if they work out.

20120609. First ever pickled beets.

(Not at All) Weekly Roundup: aka Picture Pages!

We worked our butts off yesterday in the sun and heat, and I have the awkward tan lines and weirdly sore muscles to prove it. In celebration of being exhausted, I’m going to just stick with the pics today. We’ve had an eventful week on ye olde home front.

20120602. Hiking at Shades State Park.

We started the weekend at Shades State Park, west of Indianapolis, to celebrate Chris’ birthday weekend. BIRTHDAY!

20120602. Hiking at Shades State Park.

I was NOT all that into the giant black snake CLIMBING UP A TREE that we encountered at the end of one of our hikes.

20120602. Hiking at Shades State Park.

Phew! The snake did not eat us, and we lived to tell the tale and eat another hot dog.

20120609. First ever pickled beets.

Have I mentioned lately that I like beets? And canning? Here are the finished pickled beets. Today I planted about 6 more rows of beet seeds!

20120607. Freezing pesto!

I also froze some fresh pesto.

20120609. Well-loved lettuce.

As of this morning, many of the lettuces and all the snap peas are no longer. This alien-looking thing is the sign of a well-loved, well-eaten lettuce plant.

20120609. Welcome... to the backyard, where we basically spend all our time.reopsis, and coneflower.

Did I mention the outside world kicked our collective asses yesterday? We decided, what with our upcoming housewarming party and the tour de coops, it was time to beautify the side of the house a bit. Where once there was dying grass, we now have coneflower, coreopsis, and blazing star (with a couple of rosemary plants thrown in for good measure).

20120609. We planted the side of the house! Blazing star, correopsis, and coneflower.

Mmm, blazing star!

20120609. Yellow sqaush is off the charts awesome.

Pretty soon, we are going to be very sick of yellow squash. I’m all for freezing it for later, though!

20120609. Hot Ono.

The girls commiserated with our general heat-strokiness yesterday.

20120610. Convertible picnic table.

Really, though, the entire point of this post has been leading up to THIS PICTURE – our brand new cedar convertible bench/picnic table!

20120610. Convertible picnic table = sexy.

Seriously, I think I’m in love.