Thursday, September 30, 2010

When the lights go out....

When the lights go out we are all set!! I have worried over the years about how I could save everything we have in the freezer if we lost power for more than a day or two, problem is now finally solved. Yes I know homeowners insurance will cover the cost of any food loss due to a storm or whatever, but 1/2 of what we have in the freezer didn't come from a grocery store, I would have to wait till the next growing season to replace it or be stuck with whats at the grocery store.

I know nothing about electricity other than to plug it in, turn it on, and pay the bill on time. Rambo man is the power expert so I left the buying decision up to him regarding the generator, took him over a year of research to find what he really wanted, once the choice was made I got busy finding the best price I could. We were able to save a little bit, wish it could have been more, the sucker was expensive!! Northern Tool and equipment was having their yearly anniversary sale so we got 10% off, in addition to that we went to a neighboring county who's tax rate is 5% lower than ours to make the purchase so at least we saved 15%. I was surprised to learn that the base and wheel kit was sold separately as well as the battery to start the darn thing, of course we also had to pick up the oil and a cover, we are now fully accessorised. The model we purchased is tri - fuel, it will use natural gas, diesel or gasoline. Now I am in the process of waiting around for companies to give us price quotes on running a gas line where Bob wants to set the thing up if we ever need to use it, so far the going rate is close to $1,000.00, Holy Crap, wasn't expecting that in the total cost. Once we have the time Bob will fire the baby up to make sure everything works as expected, we should be able to run both refrigerators, freezer and a few small appliances, crock pot, fan, coffee pot, small TV and such. I could possibly squeeze everything into 1 refrigerator in an emergency so we could help out a neighbor or two that would need to run a line to it.

I hope we NEVER need to use the thing but I feel better knowing it is here. Funny thing is at Sunday dinner last week our oldest Daughter was giving us a hard time over the generator, she thought it was a waste of money and of course she is sure I am off my rocker. Well low and behold I was headed to their house tonight to work on the nursery and who do you think is without power? Yep, they had a transformer in their area blow today so everyone is without power, might be on by 9:00 PM if they are lucky, I couldn't help but laugh and of course offer a place to stay but no way will we share the generator!! HA (couldn't lift the sucker if I wanted to)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ankle Deep in Mud

Took a wrong step in the garden this morning and ended up stuck in the mud above my ankle, not cool!! I was trying hard not to step in the standing water, lost my balance and ended up with one foot in the newly plowed cabbage, what a mess!!! Had to change clothes, wash sandals and get my jeans in the wash all because I was trying to bring in the stupid okra before the rain got any heavier today. Crap. Gardening can be a real pain in the butt.

Lots of creating for baby girl Karsyn and helping Mommy do a little nesting around the house on top of some morning mending and errands in the rain, still working on some beading to bling up Karsyn's canopy tomorrow, then maybe Mom will be happy and the nursery will be considered done. Might be wishful thinking on my part, Karsyn's room is over the top Girlie, hope I will remember to take some photo's tomorrow.

Also wanted to share a cool canning and preserving book I picked up a bit ago "Put 'Em' Up" by Sherri Vinton. This is the perfect book to get you started in food preservation, even seasoned canners, dehydrators would enjoy it. Hope I will have the energy to curl up in the bed, lesson to the rain and read a chapter tonight, that is if I ever finish this crazy beading!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Green Tomato's

Kara was such a good girl today she took a 2 1/2 hour nap so I was able to get the green tomato's breaded, vacuumed packed and tucked in the freezer. Okra, cucumbers and bell peppers went in the dehydrator, nice and easy, will vacuum pack them in the morning and stash away for the winter.

I used Paula Deen's fried green tomato's recipe, hopefully they will turn out just as yummy from the freezer as they do fresh, put up 18 servings, yahoo!!

We ended up with 3 inches of rain over 2 days, I checked the rain barrels this morning, they were 1/3 of the way full, should be even better when we get then set up right next weekend. Maybe this will work out to help get the durn water bill down where it should be.
Finally caught back up on the garden and putting up what we have for now, hope to move on to the ever growing pile of projects I need to get caught up on. Lots of sewing and mending are first on the agenda.

Monday, September 27, 2010

One of the many things we accomplished this weekend was to get the rain barrels assembled and in place. I ordered them at 1/2 price for a 35th Anniversary gift for Bob this year. LOVE a sale, we still need to rework the down spouts on the gutters so they will drain directly into the barrels (maybe next weekend). So why rain barrels you ask as did our oldest Daughter who thinks I am very odd. Last year we used twice as much water as the same time this year yet our water bill has more than doubled in size, a whopping $84.00 this month alone. Back when we had the drought we were on mandatory rationing and the water company increased the rates to detour folks from using so much water. The drought has been over for a few years now but the rates never came down, in fact they went up again. We hope buy setting up the barrels we can use the run off water for the garden and save a few bucks in the process. We have had 2 1/2 inches of rain the past 2 days, hope we will have a little something in our barrels to show Rambo man this weekend! We will be adding an additional garden at the back of our yard next spring so that will mean double the watering next year. maybe the barrels will help with the garden costs.
Didn't even get started on the green tomatoes today but I somehow filled the entire day doing odds and ends as well as a trip to CVS to play the coupon game, spent $22.43 saved $53.03, Ya Baby. Took Heather and Tyler out for supper tonight then on the BJ's to load up on Halloween treats and a few other things. Baby Karsyn Rylee will arrive Oct 25th just in time for Halloween figured I better get Mom stocked up while she still has a little energy at the end of the day, even though she thinks I am off my rocker!! Tomorrow is a full day with Kara so I am grounded, maybe I can get to the green tomato's and okra, Kara loves to hang out with me in her Baby Bjourn.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Weekend of Work

We had a non stop work around the yard this weekend and Tyler had a spend the night Saturday so we got very little sleep. We are not use to sleeping with a 4 year old super hero, he is Spiderman these days, already wore out his Halloween costume so it's back to the store for a new one. Rambo man said as he left today he needed to get back to work so he could get some rest!

I spent most of my time in the garden doing clean up and getting the rest of the fall plants in. We now have, zucchini, summer squash, broccoli, egg plant, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, Okra (will never end), tomatoes, sweet potato's, and bell peppers. We have had such hot weather and no rain for so many weeks that some things are looking a little puny, but today we are getting some really good rain and more for the next few days so maybe things will perk up and get going again. It is 66 degrees tonight and pouring down rain, YAAAA bring on the fall!!

I decided to bring in some of the green tomatoes for fried green tomatoes, not sure if it will work to batter and freeze them but I figured it is worth a try, stupid squirrels keep taking them before they can get ripe. We all love fried green tomatoes, it would be pretty cool to have some during the winter when we are watching the football playoffs! That's my project for Monday to deal with the tomatoes and of course okra that never stops. We want to start getting the new beds for next year going soon but we need to get caught back up on all the never ending odds and ends that keep poping up

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sweet Kara

Our sweet Kara has had a time of it this week, she had her first round of newborn shots on Monday. Lucky for us the Dr. agreed to only give her half of the shots now and the other half next month. She has had an odd reaction to the shots in that her temperature has been hovering around 87.4. She went in today for a check up and blood work due to her low temp. So far everything seems OK she might just be one of the rare cases where she runs a low temp when she is not feeling so good. She is still our happy chunky monkey baby doll but we have to keep her bundled up and warm for a few more days. I don't want anyone to think we are opposed to children's immunizations, with all the illegal immigration of the past years many diseases that were basically eradicated are making a huge comeback. That being said it seems ridicules that health care providers are loading babies up on such a hugh amount of immunizations at one time, don't be afraid to request your pediatrician back off a bit and spread the shoots over a longer period of time. Kara's Dr. told Kelli today it was a good call on her part for requesting just that with Kara. From here on out Kara will be having only 1/2 of the suggested shots at a time. If you should have the same felling we do don't be afraid to request your pedeatrician take a slower approach to immunizations, if they poo poo you find another Dr. that is willing to work with you as a team.
A big THANKS to my dear friend Val for giving us a heads up on the formula recall today, sure enough we have 4 large containers of the stuff that will be returned in the morning, hope we can find more at the store that hasn't been recalled. It's been a heck of a week, looking forward to a peaceful weekend!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Will Not Be Defeated

I can not believe that a shelf caving in on Monday could cause as much trouble as it has. I hit the floor running this morning to finally finish up the whole rearranging, organizing and general mess that Mondays mishap caused.
As I was pulling out all the seasonal bake ware I thought I saw what might be chocolate sprinkles, no way I keep the sprinkles with the baking supplies, what the heck is that. Holy s.... it was mouse droppings!!!! Now understand I keep a clean house, I mean really clean. There are can goods stored in the laundry/extra pantry/canning room but no box goods, open containers or anything else that would cause a mouse to set up housekeeping in that room. Other than maybe the garbage can, however we took all the trash in the house out before leaving for vacation last week, that couldn't be it. Oops, forgot middle Daughter was here for the weekend, she doesn't know how to take out the trash so maybe that was the culprit. Who the heck knows. We do have problems with mice in the fall, I know the calendar says today is the first day of fall but give me a break it was 92 degrees today.
What should have been an hour or two job turned into an all day event, cleaned everything out of the laundry room, scrubbed it down in pinesole, reloaded the room then finally moved the bake ware to the garage baskets. I am done, no more, Bob will have to deal with the mouse this weekend, I don't do rodents. Sorry for any mispelling stupid spell check won't work today.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One Step Closer

I was able to get the baking pantry finished today so I am one step closer to getting things in order in the kitchen. I still need to do more work on the bake ware, looks like some of it will be moving to the garage. Rambo man put in a cool basket system for me at the kitchen door this summer, I think I can get better use of the baskets by using them for the overflow from the kitchen. I have so many pans that I only use for seasonal baking that are taking up a ton of space that could be better utilized.
I received an e-mail today asking about the containers I use in the pantry, the majority of the ones on the top shelf are OXO Soft Works pop containers, I pick mine up at Kholes or Target when they are on sale. I use them for oats, rice, pasta, nuts, chocolate chips, corn flakes, bread crumbs, crackers, etc. They are great to store lots of things that you want to keep fresh once the box has been opened, in the south we have problems with humidity and of course bugs can always get into anything that has been opened, the containers solve both problems. I also buy lots of things in bulk, with these containers I can store the bulky bags out of the way and only keep what we need in the pantry, saves lots of space. I also have a few containers from the Food Saver system, they work fine but are very expensive and you have to seal them with the food saver each time you open the container, what a pain!
I have Kara again tomorrow so I don't expect to get a lot accomplished and frankly I don't care, coming down with what I hope is only a cold so I am not up to any major projects. Our middle Daughter has come down with the flu, she went to the Dr. yesterday for meds, have my fingers crossed that she hasn't past it to me.

Pantry Update

I finished the pantry this morning and I'm now ready to move on, or so I thought. The baking pantry is a mess, I keep shoving more and more stuff in, I'm now to the point where I can't find what I need most often. In order to work on that I need to do some rearranging of bake ware to free up some shelf space. UHGGGG. I didn't attempt to put all of the canned goods back in the kitchen pantry, I moved them over to the back pantry and will restock from there. I feel like I have spent all spring and summer moving and rearranging in the kitchen and pantries. Deciding to grow, can, dehydrate and freeze from our own garden/farmers market this year has put a strain on my organizational skills as well as the shelves themselves!!
Our home canned items outgrew the shelving unit a few weeks ago, but I don't have much left to can other than okra, pears and apples, I will be dehydrating pumpkins, sweet potato's and any late fall stuff if the garden will cooperate. Maybe just maybe this will be the last time I will have to revamp anything. I plan on picking up extra bracket things for this winter, as we use up and clear out I want to reinforce all of the shelves so I don't have a repeat of the last 24 hours. I am so jealous of ladies with basements, what a joy it would be to have one area to store everything in, it could be like my personal general store. Need to stop dreaming and get busy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's Always Something

Monday's are my coupon, errands, pantry day. This Monday was no different than most Mondays. At CVS I spent $21.86 and saved $33.45, also have $14.00 in extra bucks to use in the next month. At the grocery store I spent $42.03 and saved $71.77, not a bad day, got $104.00 in free groceries and toiletries. Gotta love that!!
Spent lots of time lugging everything in the house and getting my bounty put away and organized, ahhhh...... it all looked so nice in the pantry's.

Then Bob and I spent the afternoon picking up our brand spanking new tri fuel generator. We somehow unloaded it without any serious injury's; picture me straddling a 2x12 beam propped up on the back of the pick up as Bob pushed the box down, then we somehow wiggled it onto some sorta tool with wheels to get it in the garage. If you ever decide to purchase a generator make sure and have a few strapping young men around to help out, sucker is very heavy!! What a perfect day UNTIL !!!!!

I opened the kitchen pantry door to find a shelf full of canned goods had fallen in, (lots of bad words) What a nightmare, I had to unload most everything in the pantry to get to the shelf to start the repairs, then a trip to the hardware store to find the parts for the self. Bob had already headed back to Va for the week, I had 2 chooses let the mess lay for a week or take on a new fix it project. I had a few mishap's along the way, but it is now officially repaired and stronger than the day the house was built. Only took 6 hours, crap am I ever tired!! May or may not get the kitchen back in order tonight, need to see if the Oreo's and milk will kick in and give me the energy to go back to the disaster zone.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

35 Years and counting!!

Today is our 35th Anniversary!! What a ride it has been!! I Love Rambo Man more today than our wedding day. He might not be good for my garden but he is the best thing to ever happen in my life, whats not to love... he has given me 3 wonderful Daughters, a happy home, never a dull moment, and lots of laugh lines. We spent a long weekend at Gatlinburg Tn. with some of our Harley buddies riding the mountains for 4 glorious days, returning to the cabin each night to a good meal in the crock pot and lots of laughs from the adventures of the day (and also very sore behinds)
Tomorrow is back to reality, the garden needs some work, ditto for the herbs, laundry to catch up on, coupons to clip, house could use a little TLC and the car needs breaks!! Realized the car needed breaks on the way down the mountain, holy crap, that will be taken care of ASAP!!!!

We exchanged gifts before we left, I got Bob a toaster for the grill as a gag gift (but it will come in handy if the power is ever out) along with the receipt for 2 rain barrels we have had on our wish list since the last drought we had in the Carolina's a few years back. May not seem very romantic but he was thrilled and the suckers were 1/2 price..even better!! He gave me a blank check WooHoo, he wasn't sure what I wanted most a Sun oven or a wheat grinder, heck I wanted them both so I placed my order tonight and they are on their way! Yaa for me, or should I say us!!
We had planned on taking a trip to the Lodge cast iron outlet while in the mountain's but the traffic was so bad we ditched that idea as well as the orchard trip for some pears. Bob can pick up the pears for me in Va next week and I will keep my eye out for a larger dutch oven on sale. Time to hit the sack in our own bed, nothing beats coming home!!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Books

As hard as I try I just can't get a good photo of the Humming Birds we have this year, we even have babies but durn if I can get a picture!! If you look very closley you can see the little guy on the left bloom of the feeder.

On to the books; the jury is still out on the new cookbook I picked up this week "The Lost Art of Real Cooking". I am all about history and this book has plenty of food history sprinkled though out, the recipes are truly back to basic cooking but the ingredients they use are not local to our area. One example is how to can your own olives, very interesting but no olive trees in NC, there is a section on making your own Koji Mold, Humm, not likely. How about rendering fat, well you never know, curing meats, lots of info on fish I have never heard of, however it is interesting. I get the feeling much of the information may be geared for the west coast. I was all set for a more country cooking sorta book but I have enjoyed reading it. I'm sure we will hit a few country stores over the weekend, maybe I can find some true country cooking books in the mountains.

The second book I am reading is "The $64.00 Tomato" so far it is a fun read on a family who is trying to get a family vegetable garden started. Haven't really had much time to get into it yet, hope to set in one of the rocking chairs this weekend with a cup of tea and relax with this one.

I think I finally have everything packed and ready to go for our mountain trip, I still need to make a couple of loves of bread in the morning before we head out that's why I am posting tonight!! Rambo man got in late tonight, so he will be tilling a couple of rolls in the garden for me in the morning so I can plant spinach and carrot seeds, hopefully I will have a few poking their little heads out when we get home next week.

The guys are riding the Harley's over but I will be sticking to the interstate in the car loaded down with food and adult beverages for the boys. The weather report is saying sunny, warm and clear all weekend, we should be having some great riding time. I still packed all our winter gear for the bike, even if it is 70 degrees in the valley once we get high in the smokies the temperature can drop into the 20's, that is bone chilling cold on the bike I can tell you!

May not be posting till next week, never know if we will be able to get service at the cabin.


Yesterday was errand day, Christmas shopping and a stop at the nursery. Here is another reason to keep a full pantry and freezer, you can start your holiday shopping early! Since I don't need a thing at the grocery this week and the sales are nothing to crow about I can use the extra cash to get a head start on Christmas. I had a coupon for 30% off at Bath and Body works so that was my first stop, in addition to my coupon they had a buy 3 get 2 sale going on, woohoo! Also scored at Northern tool store for the boys, I was picking up an anniversary gift for Rambo man and ran into a couple of clearance item for the Son-in-Laws. The item I wanted for Rambo man was out of stock :( darn, after visiting with the fella that was helping me he said when they went on clearance they sold out the first day, double darn! I ask if he would mind checking his system to see if any other stores might have them, everyone was out :(, now on to the good part... they still had some in the warehouse and could ship for free to the store if I was willing to pre-pay, heck ya, sign me up. Turns out they were 50% off so I bought 2!! Yaa me, I had already budgeted for the full price item, we really wanted more than one of what I was buying but we were pacing ourselves due to the price, I can now check those items off our wish list, they should arrive early next week. I will just wrap up the receipt with a photo of the item along with the gag gift I bought earlier and I am good to go.

I also needed to pick up shampoo for me, I have very few indulgences but good shampoo is one I am not willing to give up without a fight. I have white hair, not grey, not salt and pepper just pure dee white/silver, whatever the color of the shampoo I am using will turn my hair the same color as the shampoo in just a day or two, green, pink, purple whatever my hair just grabs the color, therefore I buy the good stuff, I am way too old to run around looking like a punk rocker. The brand I use has gone up in price $3.00 since last time, crap! So I did a little impulse buying and bought 4 bottles. Now I need to find the time to search around for something more affordable but that works just as well. I also hit the garden center to see if they had anything for our fall garden in yet, nope gotta wait till next week, however they did have a 50% off sale on lavender so I picked up a couple of pots for the herb garden.

Check out the herb garden stakes. Cute matters, at least to me it does. When everything starts looking shabby a little cute helps out. I have a couple of garden stamp sets from CTMH that I am going to use to make more of the little buggers, we have some old square tiles that will be perfect to stamp on, I can get Rambo man to drill a hole in the top of the tile then all I will need is the metal stake to hang them from. I think Rambo man can do that with what he has in the garage. Gonna be a cool Christmas gift for my gardening neighbors

I am off to pack for our Anniversary trip tomorrow, haven't done a single thing to get ready yet and I will have Kara for the day so I need to put it in high gear to get ready. We have 3 of Rambo man's Harley buddies meeting us there this year so I will get to share a cabin with 4 biker dude's! Ha should be fun. I have a little side trip mapped out to a orchard in the area I am gonna talk the boys into, If the price is right I figure between all 4 bikes I should be able to get a bushel or two back to the cabin to take home. I am on a mission to find some pears to can. The guys usually humour me cause I know how to cook and they know how to eat, you gotta go with your strengths ladies

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sweet Potato's

We like sweet potato's year round and they are a must for the holiday's. Since we don't have a basement or a root cellar the only way I have found to preserve them is to dehydrate. They are super easy to do, check out "dehydrate2store" web site look under mashed potato's I think it is to see the great video on how to do this! I keep a quart jar of dehydrated sweet potato's in the pantry for ever day use, the rest I vacuum pack and store until I need to refill the jar. I was having trouble with the bags not staying sealed due to the edges of the potato's being so sharp, I now wrap them loosely in wax paper before I vacuum seal them, so far it is working great. We like a little butter, brown sugar and cinnamon on ours, when I reconstitute them I toss it all in. I also make a sweet potato casserole the same way but add mini marshmallows to the top and run them under the broiler for a few minuets to brown up. Keep your eye on them if you try this, they can and will burn (yep done it many times) Tyler loves to help me get the potato's ready to dehydrate, I give him his own wax paper, rolling pen and a blob of potato's, he will hang with me rolling and re-rolling his potato's until I am done and get mine in the dehydrator, his DO NOT get dehydrated!! Talk about a cheap toy!!

Right now I am getting my potato's from the farmers market, they are running $.89 a pound he digs fresh ones everyday. I did check the ones I have in the square foot garden a day or two ago, they seem to be getting bigger so just maybe I will have some big enough to work up before our first frost for free! Yepee. We are still getting lots of okra each day, I have been throwing it in the dehydrator and bagging it up, whoever stops by is welcome to all they want. The late cucumbers are finally coming in, not sure we will have enough to make another round of bread and butter pickles so I will pick some up at the market to can next week. Zucchini and squash both have blossoms looks like we can keep eating those until frost. The broccoli is coming along and whats left of the cabbage is doing good, silly rabbits took out 2 rolls of the cabbage. Next week I am going to try to add lettuce, carrots and radishes, figure the seeds are cheap so it might be worth trying, we are still having 80-90 degree heat not sure they are gonna like that.

I am off today to pick up my work for the Republican party get out the vote, if things don't change soon in our country we are in for a real mess, heck it already is in a mess but I fear things are going to deteriorate even more. We are not going to be able to spend our way out of this hole, we need American companies to keep jobs in America and stop getting tax breaks to send jobs out to the country for one. Who the heck do they think is going to pay taxes when people don't have jobs? Enough, I don't want to get started, go plant something, cook something, read a book or a blog on a skill, clip some coupons and have a blessed day

Monday, September 13, 2010

Apple Butter

The apple butter turned out perfect!! This would be a great thing for you to start with if you want to try your hand at canning. Having the right tools will make it a breeze. Check out my apple peeler/slicer/corer, I have the Apple Master from NorPro with the vacuum base, it cost around $25.oo and worth every dime. I peeled, cored and sliced a 1/2 bushel of apples in less than :30 minutes.

The recipe I use has you cook down the apples in 3 cups of water until tender, because the apples are sliced so thin and they are all uniform the cook time was about :20 minutes. I cheated and used my blender to mash the apples, took only seconds, then you return them to the pot add spices and cook them down until they are set, that also didn't take long, an additional :30 minutes. They only need 10 minutes in a water bath canner, bottom line is I got 22 jars of apple butter done in less than 2 hours, WooHoo!!

This handy dandy little tool is gonna make dehydrating apples so easy and fast, can't wait to work up a bushel or two more.

I meet a friend this AM for breakfast and to exchange coupons, our paper had $280.00 worth of coupons Sunday, I was able to pick up a few before they were gone. I only scored around $60.00 from the paper but my store doubles coupons so my $60.00 will turn into $120.00, I have 3 papers so it adds up to $360.00 in free food that I would normally buy. My buddy uses lost of packaged foods and premixed stuff that I don''t use so she scored big with my leftovers. Then headed to the book store for a little indulgence, picked up "The lost Art of Real Cooking", can't wait to dig into this jewel if Kara will be cooperative and take a nap today!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Blueberry Buckle

I experimented a bit Friday with blueberries, I wanted to find something other than pancakes or muffins to use them. I couldn't tell Bob that was desert blueberry buckle so I just told him it was a blueberry cake sorta deal, which is the truth when it comes down to it. Bob is one of those plain eating men, he won't eat quiche but if you make one up in a cast iron skillet and call it an old fashion sorta omelet he will eat the heck out of it, so I have to come up with plain names for anything that might be an out of the box recipe.

I used the blueberries I put up this spring along with powdered eggs and powdered milk in the recipe, it was sooo good and cut up nicely like a cookie bar so I could always freeze what we don't eat, of course that doesn't happen often, one or more of the girls and their families show up and polish things off for us. I love finding recipes I can whip up using what we have in the pantry. I know everything in the pantry has come from our garden or from the grocery at super great prices on sale and even deeper savings with coupons. Next time I will change out some of the white flour for wheat, you would never be able to tell the difference.
Friday nights are Grand baby night around our house, Bob wants them all here so he can play when he gets into town. Heather and Shannon went out for her Birthday so we were able to hang onto Ty longer than usual, yaa for us. Tyler loves to play in the kitchen with me, he decided we needed to make "chocolate chipper" cookies but after I showed him the bag of M&M's I picked up on sale and with a coupon (only cost me $.50) we went with that. I was able to sneak in some wheat flour when they weren't looking so we had some very inexpensive sorta kinda healthy cookies and frosty mugs of milk.

Bob surprised me with a 1/2 bushel of apples from Va. this week, the man is just too good to me, HA. I was able to get all the apple butter we need made up Saturday while catching some great SEC football, ROLL TIDE. I you want to try your hand at canning, apple butter would be a great place to start, super easy, apples are cheap and you can do tons of things with apple butter.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What Happened to Scrapbooking? I had a blog reader e-mail me this week asking if I had given up on scrapbooking or lost interest. Heck no, I love scrapbooking, I can't imagine ever giving it up and I have even grow to love stamping. I must admit it took me awhile to get into stamping but now I am hooked. I am still a CTMH heart consultant and I have some classes designed to teach this fall at a nationally known scrapbooker/artist/author's studio. I am more than happy to run workshops anytime some ladies want to get together and learn a new trick or two or even try out any of my tools before making an investment in them.
So why haven't I been scrapbooking for awhile? Life is getting in the way at this point. Our Daughter Kelli was a high risk pregnancy who needed lots of help during the last few months of her pregnancy and of course after Kara was born I helped out. Kelli is back to work now and I am baby setting Kara when she and Daddy have to work on the same day. Babies are so cool but they will suck the life out of a woman my age!! Bob has been out of state working for over a year now so that leaves the home, yard, garden and whatever comes up on me, durn it is a lot of work. In addition to that I made a goal this year to grow as much of our food as possible and put back enough to hold us over until the garden starts up again in the spring. While I have had a blast in the garden, canning, dehydrating and freezing, it is a ton of work. With the weather as hot as it has been I hold off on canning until the sun goes down and it cools off a bit, by the time I am finished I am to wore out to hit the scraproom. On top of all that I refuse to pay full price for anything at the grocery store or drug stores this year, clipping coupons, watching for sales then repackaging meat and many other things we buy in bulk sucks up even more time and energy. Of course I cook the majority of our meals and snacks from scratch now days, haven't bought a loaf of bread in so long I can't even remember when.
I don't regret the decisions we have made this year even if they don't leave me a lot of free time for play. Our full pantry has been a blessing with how much money we have been able to save as well as being able to help Kelli and Nathan who have taken a beating from the down turn in the economy this year. I hope to get back in the scraproom once things settle down but that may not be anytime soon, Karsyn Rylee will arrive in 5 short weeks, of course I will help Heather out until she gets on her feet and will then keep the baby once Heather returns to work in Jan. As soon as Shannon gets back to work (thankfully soon!) I will also have Tyler 2 days a week so.....scrapbooking will be sporadic to say the least!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Frozen Veggies

I checked out the freezer this morning to see how we are doing, I can still put up more okra and summer squash maybe even broccoli in the fall, my plants are all looking good, not to sure about the zucchini yet but it too is beginning to coming along. I was surprised how low we are already getting on many things and it is still 90 degrees outside, but I did do a ton of dehydrating this year, other than shredded zucchini we should be fine. We been having had lots of zucchini bread lately, I may go ahead and pick up more from the farmer market today. The kids have hit the strawberries really hard, I originally put up 30 bags of the buggers we are already down to 12, I will have to guard them with my life if they want strawberry bread this winter!

I will have Kara this afternoon while Mommy works, here is a photo of her playing peek a boo with us this week, not sure I remember our girls playing at only 2 months old but you know how grand babies are (always smarter than anyone else) I picked up a Baby Bjorn while shopping with Heather to finish up Karsyn's room earlier in the week. I hope she will like it so I can get a few thing done around the house when she is here. She really is a good baby but wants to have you in her sight at all times and in your arms is even better. I do believe Mommy just sets and holds her all day until Daddy comes home and does the same thing. What the heck, they are only little once, thanks Teresa for the suggestion we will let you know how it works out. They didn't have anything like this when my girls were little. I haven't tried the thing on yet, hope it fits menopausal figures, Teresa has a waist the size of my thigh!!

So what is in your freezer? have you done a good clean out lately? Better get going on it so you can stock up on all the sales and save yourself some money!

Okra-18 bags, will do more, we like breaded fried okra
Summer Squash-19 bags, will do more ditto on breaded fried squash
Zucchini-8 bags, no where near enough for bread
Blueberries-19 bags, should be OK
Strawberries-12 bags, to late to do more, moved it to the back so the kids can't find it
Cherries-9 bags, plenty, canned a bunch
Broccoli-6 bags, not enough, will do more if the late garden works

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Our Summer Jewels

Our summer jewels are not diamonds, rubies or emeralds but they sparkle and shine with a taste of summer we will be happy to have this winter. My goal this year was to try and preserve whatever we didn't eat daily from our own garden, my fantasy is someday to grow all our own vegetables, we are a long way from that time!! Whatever I couldn't pull from our garden this year I bought at our local farmers markets. The one I shop from most of the time is an old country store run by a family that has been farming in the area for generations, they also take in extras from other local small farms in the area, they carry local home canned items, candles, soaps, honey, milled corn, wheat and such. They are opened year round selling vegetables we can still grow in the south or that they have put back in root cellars as well as Christmas trees. They are reasonably priced, you can call ahead and order a bushel or whatever large quantity you want, they will have it packed up and ready to go when you arrive, they will also save canning tomatoes for you and give you a call when they have a bushel or whatever amount you want. Try getting that customer service at your local grocery store! The family who owns the store are right in front of you, they take pride in their farm and store, they are not setting around a board room table deciding how they can get the most profit from the least amount of work and to heck with food safety. OK, so I will get off my soap box now, sorry!!
So here is my list of canned foods from the summer, we still have lots to do with apples and pumpkins but that will be in the fall.
Dill Pickles-14 pints, that's plenty
Kosher Pickles-8 pints, that's plenty
Bread and butter pickles-3 pints/2 quarts, Opp's, we have been hitting them hard already
Cherries-14 pints/6 quarts, maybe to many
Strawberry Jelly-17 -4 ounce jars/3 -1/2 pint jars, that's plenty
Asparagus-14 pints, might be enough
Sauerkraut-4 pints, new recipe, not sure if it will be good
Tomatoes-28 quarts,4 pints, may not be enough to late to make more
Chili base-8 pints, not enough but new recipe so we might not like anyway
Salsa-22 pints, should be enough
Pizza sauce-13-1/2 pints, 3 pints, should be plenty
Okra-6 pints, will be making more, it is still coming on strong
Peaches-24 pints, that's plenty
Radish relish-10-4 ounce jars, may be to much
Watermelon Jelly-12-1/2 pints, plenty
Watermelon rinds-1 1/2 pint. 4 ounce- who cares, never again
Frozen cucumber salad-6 pints, new recipe, may not like it

Pickled Okra

Pickled Okra is supper easy to do!! Yea for me, finally something easy that worked out right!! I still have trouble packing food in jars tight enough, I thought I had crammed all I could into the okra jars but after canning them looks like I had lots more room. Canning jars are not that cheap so I need to do a better job of filling them up to get the most bang for my buck. Speaking of canning jars looks like I will be needing a few more before we start working on apples when they come in. I figure pints for applesauce and apple slices then 1/2 pints for apple butter. I know some people think it is nuts to even bother with 1/2 pints but for us it works out. Most mornings it is just Bob and I at breakfast, it would take us too much time to work our way through a pint of jelly so I stick with mostly 1/2 pints, I think 1/2 pints are also a nice size for gift giving.

Today is finishing up the canning inventory, and a little tiding up around the kitchen. Kelli and baby Kara came over yesterday so I didn't get a thing done. In the afternoon I took Heather out shopping for a few more baby items to finish up the nursery, didn't get home until almost 10:00 PM, UGH. Baby Girl Karsyn Rylee should arrive in 5 weeks, Heather has gone over the top girlie in her room, it is so darn cute and Tyler is getting really excited that he will have a baby that can stay at his house, unlike Karalee who has to go home with Aunt Kelli. Sunday dinner is going to be a crazy around our house not too long from now. I hope the weather will turn off a little cooler by the time Karsyn arrives so I can just throw something in the crock pots for dinner, don't want to miss any Nanny time, and yes I said crock pots it takes more than one to feed a family this size.

Having the family in on Sunday can get a little nuts sometimes, I try and get the desert and bread made ahead of time and maybe even some side dishes but I still end up being wore slap ass out by the end of the day when they all head home. I wonder how in the heck large families can do it day in and day out, they must eat lots of casseroles or something (my kids and Bob won't touch). And how can they afford all that food. last Sunday Bob cooked 3 racks of ribs and 4 pork loins, side dishes were cabbage and noodles, bake beans, oven roasted potatoes, corn on the cob, pickles, watermelon, 2 loaves of bread and for desert a chocolate cake along with zucchini bread. We had enough leftovers for Bob and I each have a meal this week but that was it. We wouldn't have it any other way, we both know how blessed we are to have our girls close by and that they enjoy coming home and we also have the best son-in-laws in the world. of course our grand babies are the smartest and cutest that were ever born.....starting to sound a little like Lake Wibgone now!! Ha I am just wondering how large families can make it in our world.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Never again!!!

Here is our bounty of pickled watermelon rind, yup that's it, no more and never again. In case any of you want to give this a try let me give you the steps.
First cut all the outer layer of the watermelon (green stuff), takes an hour or so
Then cut away any of the pink watermelon, if not you will get slimy pickles
Now cut all the pieces 1x2 inches. place in large glass bowl, better give yourself another hour
Then cover in a salt brine, weigh it down with a plate and a few jars and leave overnight.
Stick with me, we aren't done yet!!
Now drain a rinse at least 3 times
Cook the rind in water until fork tender, drain, takes 30 to 45 minutes
Cook the pickling mix until cinnamon is defused in sauce, maybe 30 minutes (Not giving the recipe because you would be nuts to try this)
Now add the drained watermelon rind and bring to a boil, simmer on med high for 40 minutes. add food coloring and mix well
Pack rind into jars, cover in sauce
Water bath can for 15 minutes, let stand in canner for an additional 5 minutes and cool overnight.
All of this work will yield you 1 and 1/2 pints of watermelon pickles, if you try this you need to be locked up!!! I very rarely say never again but this is truly a once in a lifetime experience that I will NEVER do again.

Update on the watermelon jelly, the jar in the refrigerator is a little bit set, the jars on the canning shelf are still lose, I might re-can it all using pectin at some point but no time soon, I am OVER watermelon for quite awhile.
I started doing inventory in the canning/laundry room today. I need to sorta know what I have so I will know how much more or less I will need next year and also to know how much to increase the garden next year. I didn't get very far, once I got to the watermelon jelly I got P... off all over again and stopped. maybe a cup of tea and a walk around the garden will put me in a better frame of mind and I do need to get the okra that grows overnight in so I can have another thrilling evening of canning.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pesto Update

I needed a new kitchen thermometer to make the Watermelon jelly (Rambo man broke my old one manning the grill) so we headed into William Sanoma Friday night to pick one up that Rambo man is not allowed to ever look at much less touch. Cost is irrelevant, I need good tools to work my magic in the kitchen and it should last a lifetime. As we are wandering around drooling over this and that (well I was drooling anyway) I found a 4 ounce jar of pesto for $14.00. I was so excited to show Bob!! Look at this, 4 ounces of pesto for $14.00, I made 3 times that much for $5.00 from our own garden. Bob humored me, he doesn't know what the hell pesto is but trusts that I did a good job saving him a bit of money. I was sooo pumped!
Bob found a toaster he wanted to get for $199.00, it wasn't even the most expensive one in the store!! Are you kidding me, heck no, we got out of there super fast before he put it on the counter. The whole toaster thing is an ongoing drama at our house, that I will have to share in another post. Bottom line is this, I saved enough money making my own pesto to almost cover the cost of the thermometer (I can justify any tool kitchen or scrapbooking related)

The house is QUITE!!

Labor Day weekend is finally coming to a close, they kids are all gone settling into their own homes, Bob is headed back to the job site and I am having a bit of quite time with a tall glass of ice cold water. We had a great weekend with too much good food, a bit of boating, lots of Harley time and fun with the grand babies (we like our kids too).

We had Pickled okra and watermelon rind as extra side dishes for Sunday dinner, the kids who were willing to try it fell in love but some refused to even pick it up (losers). The watermelon rind was a bit sweet for our taste so I drained and rinsed it off with cold water then drained it again, much better! The pickled okra was wonderful, it is now on my to do list this week, I have tons of the little buggers and more coming in each day.

I was able to get to the watermelon jelly Saturday morning while Bob worked on the hot tub that caught on fire (long story but not my fault!). Here are a few tips if you want to give watermelon jelly a try. Shoes and apron are required, bra is optional. I have a habit of going barefoot more than I should, if you are working with watermelon for hours you will end up with sticky feet so wear shoes and an apron is a must unless you don't mind a sticky belly from watermelon juice. A bra is not necessary, you aren't working with mechanical equipment that the girls might get hung up in.

The jelly looks soooo pretty, wish I could get a nice photo of it. It taste like a watermelon Jolly Rancher but a bit sweeter. I am not sure if it will work out as expected yet, they jelly has not firmed up, after searching the web seems like lots of folks have had the same problem with loose jelly, the suggestion is that it takes about a week to jell, time will tell. I did put a jar in the refrigerator and it set up a little better, seems to be getting better every day. I figure the worst that can happen is I will throw a jar in the freezer when we want to use some, it should get good and firm doing that. I also saved the seeds, dried them on a dehydrator rack in the sun for 2 days then vacuum sealed them for next year, the farmer we bought the watermelon from told me how to do it. I cut up the rind and have it soaking in salt water now, I need to work on canning it tonight after I have a little down time.

So far a $3.00 watermelon gave us 14 jars of 1/2 pint jelly, seeds for next year and I am sure more watermelon rind than we will ever use, and a spotlessly clean kitchen floor (this stuff is a sticky mess to work with). Not a bad deal for very little money.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cookin Fool

Do you ever have those days when you just start cooking, I mean really cooking as in you just line up the ingredients and start whipin out the dishes? Yesterday was one of those days for me, after my run to the farmers market and a stop at the grocery store to pick up pine nuts for the pesto I got in the kitchen and got busy. We now have a meatloaf in the refrigerator ready to warm up for dinner along with Salisbury steak for Saturday night. The counter has 2 loaves of white/wheat bread along with 2 loaves of zucchini bread for the weekend and I made pesto. I also picked up a watermelon to make jelly and rind pickles but that didn't happen, I planed on working that today but Kelli was able to pick up and extra day at work so I will have Kara today, I am not willing to can with a baby in the house, way to many interruptions and I know I would forget something and mess it all up. With the holiday weekend coming up the watermelon may end up on the dinner menu one night over the long weekend, but next week I am determined to give it a try. I also picked up a jar of pickled okra at the farmers market to try out over the weekend, if we like it I will have one more way to use up what the garden is still giving us.
Now on to the pesto, it was supper easy to make, the only drawback was the cost of the pine nuts. A little bitty jar cost $6.00 but you can get 2 batches from it so it wasn't as bad as I thought, the recipe also said you could use walnuts which I always have on hand and are way cheaper, but I wanted to do it just like the recipe for the first time. After you get it mixed up you can preserve it by lining an ice tray with with plastic wrap, pour in the pesto and freeze, then you can use a freezer bag and throw it in the freezer. I will use my food saver and freeze it in smaller batches so it will last longer, no worries with freezer burn that way. All in all it was a success, I will use walnuts next time due to the cost, everything else are pantry items so there will be no cost involved and I can use what we are growing without wasting the basil.
Hope everyone has a great and safe holiday weekend, we are hanging out around the house this year and will be playing on the lake for the most part, we will be tag teaming Kara back at the house, she is way to little to be on the boat, not sure they even make life jackets for a 7 week old.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pesto time

I have been drying lots of Basil this summer and it just keeps on coming so I decided today I will make some pesto to freeze, I hate to see all this basil go to waste, I also dried cilantro and parsley along with more okra last night that I plan on passing on to a friend, we have more than we will need already. My fall garden is not looking to good, our bunny buddies have been doing a number on the cabbage, not sure they will leave any for us, broccoli seems OK, cucumbers are coming along, zucchini and summer squash not sure about, carrots might be a bust, egg plant.. jury is still out, bell peppers look like they are on their last leg and the watermelon is beginning to rot. Crap!
I found an interesting recipe for watermelon jelly that I want to try, our farmers market has watermelon cheap as all get out right now so I am gonna give it a whirl then pickle the rind. I also want to pick up a jar of pickled okra, I have never had it before, sounds kinda gross to me but you never know, it might be just the ticket for preserving the continuing okra production.
Our farmers market has lots of different home canned fruits and vegetables, the prices are pretty high but it is a nice way to try something new in canning without spending hours in the kitchen preparing whatever you are working on then time over the canner in this hot weather only to find out what you have worked your butt off canning the dog won't even eat.
I have enough okra dehydrated for the winter to use in soups and gumbo, enough is breaded and frozen for Bob and I to have a few times each month until next year and I have family size bags breaded and frozen for Sunday dinners with the family. This is the first year we have grown okra so I don't know how much longer this daily picking will continue, hopefully pickling it will be yummy.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Safe Eggs

Woohoo, I got my safe eggs in, no more wondering if we should eat what is in the grocery store. Seems that the egg problem is over for now and NC wasn't in the recall to begin with but the whole egg deal caught me on a bad day. I was up to my ears disgusted by so many things that are going on in our country lately that I decided at least buying powdered eggs would be one way to have a little more control of the food our family eats. As an added bonus the powder eggs cost less than fresh eggs in the grocery store which aren't really all that fresh to begin with and they will last up to 10 years, not that anything other than dust last 10 years around our house. I'm not ready to fry up a pan of scrambled eggs just yet but I do plan on using them in baking, I can't tell you how many times I am in the middle of a cookie recipe and run short of eggs so this should do the trick. One of our neighbors is in the process of getting laying hens, I am already on her list for fresh eggs but it will take her some time to build up her flock to the point of selling eggs. Our homeowners association is gonna have a slobbering fit, but she is following all of the city ordinances and all of us around her are excited that she is gonna give it a try, were don't belong to the association anyway so it will be more of nuisance dealing with them than anything else. Our homes are on 1 acre lots, we have the room to have chickens and even a few goats if we want, Bob would kill me!! But I think it would be so cool for the Grand babies, for now I will just stick with our garden and safe powdered eggs.

I am still in the midst of cleaning out closets, today is my own closet, now that I am not working outside of our home I need to weed our all of the corporate clothes, shoes and purses, that should free up lots of space. I hope to get Bob to help me on his closet over the long weekend but that might just be wishful thinking. Notice I haven't mentioned the scrapbook closet! I think that needs to wait for a nice rainy day or two, or three but I have got the room back in order finally and I have all of the piles of to do stuff lined up nice and neat.