Friday, August 15, 2014

Canning & Freezing 2014

I love canning.  This past winter I noticed almost every dishwasher load had at least 1 canning jar in it, we really eat a lot of what I can in the wintertime and it's so handy. 

This year I'm taking better notes of what and how much I'm canning and freezing.  I don't have a lot of space in my freezers, (those chickens and bunnies take up space:)  so I try to can more then freeze.  Plus i like the handiness of grabbing food off the shelf and having an instant meal/side, rather then having to thaw things out, I don't always plan ahead good enough for that.  Some of my canned things are in a cardboard box on my basement floor, so you don't need to have glamorous storage space for your jars.  There is the debate that canning zaps out more nutrients then simply freezing your items.  I haven't found a clear answer for that.

A couple things, like red beets and corn, I didn't need to put away much of because I still had some from last year.

Here is my current list of what i canned and froze so far in 2014:

Green beans - 62 quart (I always run out, this should be enough) 48 canned/14 froze

Corn (froze) - 10 quart

Chicken broth - 21 quart (made from our butchered chicken's carcasses)

Red beets - 9 quart

Meadow tea - 8 quarts of concentrate (will make 8 gallon)

Beef stew (pictured above) - 14 quart (a new favorite- it's an instant meal.  it's delicious, the carrots and potatoes came from the garden.  it also works well as a quick meal to give to other people.  i found the recipe in my pressure canner owner's manual)

Tomato juice - 15 quart

Diced tomatoes - 37 pints

cabbage (froze) - gallon size bag of leaves to crumple in soups

Orange/lemon meadow tea mixture, concentrate - 14 quart, to make 14 gallon

fruit for smoothies - freeze- (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and peaches)

green peppers (chop and freeze)
applesauce (using the oven canning method) 
kale (freeze for soups and smoothies)
Lima beans (from an Amish farm, will freeze) 
pumpkin (pureed and frozen)

I chip away at many of these things as they are ready in the garden.  I did not do all 37 pints of diced tomatoes in one day!  I did it 3 different times as they ripened.  I like to do it that way because I don't need to make it a full day event, but rather a couple hours in the morning or afternoon.  That way I can just fit it in with other things I have going that day rather then focusing only on that project for the entire day.

If you are looking to start preserving veggies, green beans are an easy one to start with.  Kale and spinach are too.  you don't need to cook the leaves first, just put them in a ziplock bag and freeze.  you can then take out what you need and crumple in soups, casseroles, eggs, or smoothies.

School starts soon!  new school update coming soon...Happy weekend

Friday, August 8, 2014

Beachin' it

Ah, what a nice 30 hour beach vaca that was!  It was long enough for me, Rod wasn't along and i don't know if i could have hauled all the beach stuff down to the sand one more time!

We enjoyed spending the first day with some family on my mom's side.  The boys and i stayed overnight and spent more time on the beach the next day.  We had a blast on the boardwalk that evening too, from 5:30-10 we ate pizza, hit up the dollar store, explored the beach, got water ice, and just enjoyed strolling the boardwalk, taking in the entertainment and fulfilling some traditions like feeding the seagulls, getting the free taffy balloons and getting samples from miscellaneous food stands.

I love the boys ages right now.  A year ago i wouldn't have wanted to do this without Rod or mom with me. (neither were able to come this time)  Or maybe i would have, but it wouldn't have gone this smooth!
Adam and Isaac

Clay and Jenna
1st and 2nd cousins
Boys doing their thing
Not quite everyone here..

BIG pizza
You can't hide the country boy in them... 

Pretty morning on the beach with the new bubble machine
10am swim at the motel = pool to themselves!

I saved this boy's life 3 times
The aftermath
He was asleep before i could say...'what was your favorite part?'  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


A new favorite side dish here is Pioneer Woman's Sesame noodles.  Really anything with sesame oil in it is delicious in my opinion.  These are very easy to make and sooo good.  I like to add pork or other meat to it and make it more of a main dish, then a side.

Simple Sesame Noodles:
12 oz thin noodles, cooked & drained
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T rice vinegar
3 T pure sesame oil
1/2 tsp hot chili oil (*make your own by combining 1/2 tsp oil & a pinch or two of cayenne pepper)
4 T oil
4 whole green onions, sliced thin

Whisk all ingredients, except noodles and green onions, together in a bowl.  Taste and adjust ingredients as needed.  Pour sauce over warm noddles and toss to coat.
Sprinkle with green onions and toss.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Danny part 2

Did I seriously just host a kid from the Bronx for 7 days??!  wow 7 days is a long time, but not long enough to change someone's sleeping and eating habits!

It was a good experience overall for all of us.  I'm glad we did it.  But when you commit to it and get your match, you really have no idea what you are getting.  Danny was a pretty good fit.  We didn't need to worry about homesickness or shyness that's for sure :)  He was mostly respectful to Rod and I, adored his 'brothers' even though they fought their fair share, and was a good sport with the things we did.  He spends most of his time at home playing video games but never complained once that we don't have any video games.  He said he thinks he lost weight :)   He learned kick ball, riding bike w/out training wheels, setting off a chinese lantern, picking green beans, feeding animals, and most importantly Bible stories.  Just knowing this makes all the extra work worth it!!

We will miss him,  not sure what we'll plan to do next year but will consider bringing him back again.  I just can't go there right now.  I'm still too exhausted! 

Sunday, July 27, 2014


We're just about half way through our first experience with a fresh air child.  Danny is a sweet boy, who loves attention, is happy, outgoing, and pretty cooperative.  He is from the Bronx, so there is that side of him too!  I believe we are fortunate though, I've heard stories of kids who are homesick the whole time or just grumpy.  Danny adjusted immediately and called us mom and dad the night we picked him up!  He can almost tell Ben and Brad apart.  He and Adam buddied up pretty quick.  And Clay is pestering him like little brothers do.  On the way home the night we picked him up, Clay sat next to him in the car and was so excited.  After a while Danny says "I just want some peace and quiet!"  Of course we all started laughing and the poor boy didn't get peace or quiet until bedtime.

The next 4 days will be interesting.  I was spoiled today with having Rod with me the whole day.  I have a couple things planned this week, to break up the days.  He goes home Friday.  As far as I can tell, we'll try to get him again next year.  It'll be interesting to hear the boys take after he leaves. 

He has never prayed before and doesn't have any concept of God.  He enjoyed church and is taking in bible stories.  The boys are teaching him the song  "He's still working on me".

He's 10 days younger than the twins but obviously quite a bit bigger.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Brownie Bowl Sundaes

  1. Follow the directions for your favorite brownie recipe to make the batter.
  2. Spray cups of a muffin tin with cooking spray, and add brownie batter to each cup until they’re about two-thirds full.
  3. Spray the second muffin tin with cooking spray and place on top of the first tin of brownies.
  4. Place in the oven and bake, following your brownie recipe’s directions.
  5. After the bowls are completely cool, add a scoop of ice cream, top with chocolate sauce and sprinkles, and enjoy!

They went over pretty good!

I saw this neat idea online and had to try them!  They were so simple, easy for the kids to help with.  I think we are on a record high of ice cream intake this summer!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

This is what our lane looked like for a couple hours tonight.....

It was so cool, first the Amish just watched the mini bikers, but then they all started interacting together and the boys got off the mini bikes and hung out together.  The boys said they talked about church, how fast mini bikes go, and other boy stuff.

Lately I've been bothered that we are so tied down at home and the shop, that we really can't plan a vacation, and any time we do get away as a family it's a spontaneous 2-nighter that we fit in when there's a slow couple days at the shop.

But God knows just how easily amused I am and He sent me 10 little Amish boys at just the right time.  If we were away we would have missed tonight.  And actually we would have missed a lot of neat things happening here lately, like our swarm or the beautiful rainbows we've been seeing or the neighbors walking back to chat.

So I'm learning to be content with our reality, and enjoying the many gifts and blessings God brings us.  Right here where we are.