Shining in the sun
Morning after a rain
I made it through last week, and most of this week. Although this week’s been rough. Hopefully that won’t last any more than a few more days.
So, basically, I got everything canned last week that I wanted to can. With the exception of some tomatoes, which we ended up freezing, because I had been trying to do too much and had had a meltdown after several mishaps (lost 2 JARS to thermal cracking. TWO JARS! Man, that was tough). So, last week I canned 4 pints and 1 half-pint of salsa verde (which Dad declared good), 4 half pint and one 4 oz. jar of raspberry jelly. And 1 pint of pickled jalapenos (lost the half pint to thermal cracking). Plus whatever I ended up doing on Monday (see previous post).
I am tired and slightly under the weather (a blah mood), so not a long post tonight.
Over the past two days I have begun working on my piano arrangement of Owl City’s Good Time! It’s been pretty fun so far, but all I’m currently doing is figuring out chords and melody. Once I finish that, the real fun begins – the actual arranging. The chords appear to be basically the same throughout the whole song, and I have the first verse and chorus melody written out. I might post a recording of it when it’s done, if anyone’s interested. But that won’t be for awhile. 🙂
Well, I need to get myself off to bed (too many late nights + too many early mornings + too much sugar = one emotional and unhappy girl), so enjoy the photos.
Till next time!
Last Wednesday – What canning looks like when I have a bad day – all you need is a little Izze! I LOVE that stuff.
The salsa verde
Saturday – the raspberry juice
Making the jam/jelly
Today – arranging
“I tried to be normal once.
Worst two minutes of my
I found this quote online the other day, and I thought it was pretty good. Because I feel like I am pretty not normal. 🙂
I have been so busy the past few weeks, and this next week promises to be really busy, too. The main cause of this is canning. We’ve been canning peaches and tomatoes. We purchased three bushels of peaches for ourselves two weeks ago (I think), and I have canned roughly 16 quarts and 2 pints over the past few weeks. And that could increase.
Mom and I have been going to the farmer’s market and collecting tomatoes to can. So far, we have 19 quarts and 2 pints. And that could increase.
This morning Mom and I went up to a farm about 45 minutes north of us and purchased almost 50 lbs. of tomatoes, 7 lbs. of tomatillos, several pounds of potatoes, 9 melons (mostly yellow watermelons, but two were cantaloupes, and one was a snow leopard), and several sweet peppers. Today we canned the vast majority of the tomatoes. That made 12 quarts and 1 pint of the 19 quarts and 2 pints above.
I love canning. But it is exhausting.
And so listed on my schedule this week: wash dog, manage clothes, clean room, can chipotle peppers, can jalapenos, can tomatillos, can raspberry jam, work two afternoons, teach three piano lessons, and hopefully do some school. Not on the schedule (but things that I’ll still have to do) practice piano and help with meals and other things at home. It would be really nice if I could make my bed at least one day this week. And it would be really nice if I could accomplish all this without dying.
Just kidding about the last part.
Things are a bit exciting around here.
Here are a few photos from canning peaches the other day. Enjoy!
Peaches being prepped for canning
The canning/blanching set up: the big black pot is the canner, the second pot is for blanching, the blue bowl is for iced water, the clear bowl is for the blanched and cooled peaches.
Blanched, peeled peaches. Aren’t they beautiful?
Just look at those purty colors!
Sliced and in the ascorbic acid solution
In the jar in a light sugar solution
I love how food looks in jars
Practically ready to go into the canner (just have to put on one more lid)
I know that I haven’t posted about Thanksgiving yet, but I’m not going to post about that today. I may or may not post about that in the future – we’ll just see. I don’t want to make any promises that I won’t end up keeping. 🙂
Today was just a normal day of school, of life.
I made an imitation Chipotle dinner tonight. I really wasn’t planning on making the whole thing a Chipotle imitation, but it sort of took on a life of its own, and I ended up making rice, beans, and salsa, in addition to the meat. It turned out wonderfully (if I do say so myself). Mom ended up running to the store this evening, so she picked up some Monterey Jack cheese. They use a blend of Jack and White Cheddar at Chipotle. I am a HUGE fan of their cheese, just to mention one thing. I have gotten the same thing every time I have gone to Chipotle – a Steak Burrito Bowl with brown rice (now that they offer that, I used to get white), black beans, mild salsa, and cheese. LOTS of cheese. I think one time I had an actual burrito. But I much prefer the burrito bowl. Let’s just get it out there now – I LOVE CHIPOTLE!
O.K., now that we have that covered, I can tell you what I made for dinner. I found this recipe for Carnitas* when I was looking for slow-cooker recipes for this month’s meal plan. I was really happy with how it turned out. The only change I made was to use significantly less cinnamon, but I will probably up it a little next time. Although I have only tasted the Carnita meat when my family members have extra, and I am not completely stuffed (I have never ordered it myself, as I have a thing about Chipotle’s steak), I thought it tasted a lot like Chipotle’s, and the beans and rice did, too. I just looked online for imitation recipes, and found quite a few. Everyone enjoyed it. The cheese was well liked by all (see above).
No pictures. I ate it too fast, before I remembered that I should snap a photo to share. 🙂
I have been reading an herb book lately (not that unusual), and in it the author discussed how great a walk is for you during the middle of the day, to take a break from desk work. I went for a walk today, and it was lovely. Today was a bit chilly. It was also gray, but I rather enjoyed both of these things. I like the cold, gray days. They always have a certain quiet beauty about them. I can’t explain it. There is just a quiet serenity in the days when they are cold and gray. They are not so shout-out-loud beautiful as the Spring days, with the colorful flowers popping their heads up everywhere. They are not so gorgeously beautiful as the Summer days, with the intense greens of the grass and trees, and the blues of the sky. Nor are they so gloriously beautiful as the Autumn days, with the trees dressed in their best outfits for the last party of the season, as it were. No, the cold, gray, quiet days of early fall and winter have a majestic, serene, quiet, calming, half-gentle, half-harsh beauty about them. I love gray days.
So I brought my camera on my walk with me. As I had my macro lens on the camera, and didn’t really feel like changing it, I thought it would be a good exercise to try to focus on little things, and to see how many textures and small things I could catch on my walk, instead of looking for the big things, the big picture. I wanted to zoom in, as it were, on the little beauties that were hiding on the path, things that would usually get overlooked.
Here are a few of my shots.
LOVE the moss
And the grass
Old barbed wire is so…country…
…and just plain wonderful!
Moss on a tree – not sure if I like this shot…
…or this shot better. What do you think? One or two?
Old rusty farm equipment
Thank you for reading today’s ramblings!
Love to you,
*Note: I have not explored this website, so I do not endorse everything on it. I just like this recipe. 🙂
I love the trees in the pasture across the street. I know I’ve said that before, but they are so beautiful I had to say it again. And you will probably hear it again at some unknown date.
The in the past week, when I have gone out to get the mail, I stop and look at them. Sometimes I run out with my camera when the light is really great. Here are some of the shots from the last few days.
I know that these are basically all pictures of the same thing
But bear with me
‘Cause I love them all
And I’ll try not to be to repetitious
But I really like these trees
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you have a lovely day, like the one I am looking forward. A day full of friends, family, and food. And thankfulness.
So, what are your plans?
I know that I just posted a few hours ago, but I can’t help it. I need to post again.
About an hour ago I looked out the window, and noticed that the sky looked lovely – deep blue with the white clouds streaked against it. So I decided to go sit out on the deck and take a few photos.
I went and sat there and started snapping away.
Then I saw a part of the sky that I really wanted to take a picture of. But I needed to get up to take it. Once I was off the deck, I went for a walk.
And I was richly rewarded.
The wind was (and is) quite busy. It was mostly warm, but suddenly I would feel a bit of cold in it, making me thankful that I had worn a jacket.
And it reminded me that, although it was 80 degrees out today, winter is still coming. It is not far off.
I watched the sky slowly change from bright to dark, and the clouds drifting across it.
The sunset wasn’t a beautiful, colorful, amazing sunset. It was just a quiet going-away of the sun. The sky stayed mostly blue, with some yellows and golds near the sun, and just the faintest tinges of pink here and there.
I decided that I needed to visit one of my favorite places – the clearing (if that’s what you would call it) behind the pond. It is so open and beautiful. The thick grass is framed on all sides by the trees. This time of year you can see through them all the way past the pond to the road, but in the spring and summer it is more difficult.
It feels very secluded back there, even though it isn’t.
I took Meiling and Noah with me to the clearing-behind-the-pond. Meiling told us a bit of a story on the way. It went something like this.
“Once there was a man named Mr. Mashmallow. He liked dogs. So he bought a dog. It was a hound dog.”
(I immediately started singing “Hound Dog.” Once I finished, she continued.)
“They also had a green buffalo in their yard.”
“A green buffalo?” I asked, “In their yard?”
“Yes,” she responded.
I think that is far as she got.
On the way back home, while we were passing two conifer trees growing closely together, she said, “I am going to check if there is a bear.” She used her flashlight to check if there was.
She then calmly informed me, “You have a baboon in your jacket.”
At this time my jacket was tied around my waist. Not sure exactly what was meant by this. I don’t think she was referring to me. No, she doesn’t do that yet.
She then informed me that she was trying to “freak me out.”
She makes me laugh.
And not long after that, we were home.
On the deck – the sky through the tree
This caption goes for the next few pictures: I LOVE the bare tree limbs against the lovely sky!
LOVE the clouds
An airplane flew by 🙂
I LOVE THE CLOUDS!!!!
Leaving the deck
Somebody’s excited about her bone!
These trees are my favorite. They look so beautiful all the time – in spring, summer, winter, and fall, in fresh green, bright sun, soft rain, and snow
The sky in front of our home was particularly striking
My feet, or lack thereof
Were does it lead?
A lovely wooded walk (I went this way, in case you were wondering)
This make me smile
On the way to the clearing-behind-the-pond with Meiling and Noah
Following the path
Meiling thought she saw a bunny, so she went to look
It turned out to be only waving grass
Heading back home
The warm home-light beckons
Today is a lovely day. It is not too cold, and I have finally warmed up. I was cold most of the morning. I need to switch to my winter clothes, and stop attempting to wear short-sleeved shirts, even if I do put a sweater over them. ‘Cause I get cold. But most of my winter clothes are thick, warm sweaters. That makes it a bit hard to make a transition.
That was NOT what I was planning to post about. And I am sure that you didn’t exactly want to know about that. But it just came. Hmmm.
I have started listening to Christmas music already. Not all Christmas music. Just a few of my favorite songs. And they are not the traditional songs. Some non-traditional songs.
And they make me think. They make me think about what I have. My family. My home. Our lovely property.
Really, just my life in general.
I am so happy with my life. I love it. I am so glad this is where I am, right here, right now.
I am so glad that God has given my brothers and sisters, so I can influence them, and they can influence me. It has been so fun growing up with them. I love the late-night talks Drake and I have, talking about anything and everything.
I love being able to see where I am now, and look back and see where I’ve been. Of course I don’t have a lot to look back on since I am only 17, but I look forward to the compounding memories, and to being able to look back and trace God’s providence through it all.
I love my life. I feel like I have it the best that I could.
But I don’t love it in a way that I never want it to change. I don’t want to push pause and stay here forever.
I love where I am. But I am looking forward to what He has in store for me.
Now here are a few pictures that I have taken over the last few days. This one is from German night (last week’s country). The dinner did turn out FANTASTICALLY and we will have to make that again.
Making the spaetzle – I didn’t take that many pictures. Confession: I stressed. So I didn’t take that many.
It turns out that spaetzle expand to about three or four times their original size when they hit the boiling water. These in the picture, once cooked, where quite large. We started cutting them smaller, and then Mom came to help us cut, and she cut them into the tiniest little bits. They were the size all the spaetzle should have been.. Thanks, Mom!
I mentioned before that we made applesauce. The first batch made 12 quarts and 3 pints. We were able to get a second bushel of apples and that made 17 quarts and 1 pint. I think we could use a few more quarts, but if we don’t, it’s not that big of a deal.
Meiling running the strainer. You insert the apples slices (skin, core, and all) in on side, and it separates it into applesauce and skin/seeds. We usually run the skin/seeds through again just to make sure we get all the good stuff. I love this thing!
Lucy was waiting for Meiling (or anyone, really) to drop something. 🙂 She’s just so cute!
Noah cutting apples
Daddy put noise cancelling headphones on Meiling (the mixer makes a bit of noise that can get a bit monotonous). Meiling was such a great helper and worked the machine almost the whole time for the first batch of apples!
The canner and the pot of applesauce
Warm applesauce – this is AMAZING with a sprinkle of cinnamon
Now that we had all those peaches and tomatoes, I needed to do something with them. As much as we love peaches, 1 1/2 bushels is a lot to just eat. We have frozen them in the past, and they come in handy for smoothies (also, my little sister loves to eat frozen peaches right out of the freezer). I have also canned peach raspberry jam, which most people in our home liked. This year I wanted to try just canning peaches (like whole peaches).
On Saturday I canned 7 pints of peaches and 3 quarts of tomatoes. I reduced the amount of sugar in the peaches from 3 c. to 1 1/4 c. When Drake ate the extra peaches (there are usually some that don’t fit in a jar) he said they were good, but still on the sweet side. Next time I will probably use even less sugar. There isn’t much to say about the diced tomatoes. They are not all that exciting. But that’s three more quarts ready for winter.
Although I used 8 lbs. of peaches on Saturday, there were still plenty to can (and still are for that matter). Mom and I had talked about doing some jam. I had looked at some peach jam recipes, which looked good. The past few years I have made peach raspberry jam, which is quite good. I was thinking of making peach raspberry again, when Mom mentioned that we had blueberries in the freezer. After thinking about it, I decided to make peach blueberry raspberry jam, using this recipe. Again, I reduced the sugar from 3 c. to 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 c. (I can’t remember exactly how much I used). I ran my raspberries through our KitchenAid fruit strainer so that there weren’t so many seeds. I know in the recipe it says 2 lbs. of peaches, but I needed probably twice that many to equal 4 1/2 c. of fruit puree (and that includes the peaches, blueberries, and raspberries). For the raspberries I used 2 six-oz. packages, and I used 1/2+ c. of blueberries.
The jam turned out wonderfully. Everybody liked it (again, there was just a smidge extra to try). I will probably reduce the amount of sugar even more next time, since it was a bit on the sweet side (not too over-sweet, though). I was hoping to get 8 1/2-pint jars from the recipe since it says that it makes 8 c., but it only made 5 and 1/2 half-pint jars (plus the little extra that we ate).
Today Mom realized that, even with all the peaches we canned, we only used the half bushel of over ripes and we haven’t dipped into the bushel yet. I also froze a cookie sheet full of peaches today, and that didn’t push us into the bushel yet. I am planning to make some more jam tomorrow, and I will probably can some more peaches, too. I’ll let you know how all that goes.
So how about you? Do you can? If so, what do you can? Do you have a favorite jam recipe, or do you prefer pickles? Or are you somebody that would rather not do the canning yourself?
On Saturday – The peaches prepped and ready to be blanched
The recipe said that it made 6 pints, so I only sterilized 6 pint jars. I should know better than this since I have canned before, but I had extra peaches, enough to fill another jar. So I had to sterilize another jar. These were waiting to go into a jar while the others where already in the canner.
The finished product
Monday – some of the peaches and raspberries
The empty jars – I found them pretty to look at
All the fruit
Once I start making the jam, things get a bit intense and I don’t get a whole lot of pictures. I’ll have to try to remember tomorrow…
There were still some peach chunks and whole blueberries in the finished jams, which gave it some lovely colors.
Here are some photos I took of my dog and our cats and kittens today.
First up is Lucy. After she went out and played with some of my siblings in the rain, she was left in our mudroom to dry off. (Although I do like to dance in the rain, I opted out of it this time to take a bath inside. :)) Well, she came back inside, still wet, and proceeded to sleep on my unmade bed. When I went in my room to make the bed, there was my wet little puppy, all curled up on the bed, unwilling to move. I took her picture before I made her move. 🙂
Don’t you see I’m sleeping?
So what if I’m wet or the bed isn’t made?
Next are the kittens. We currently have 2 litters of kittens on and around our deck, with their two mommas. So, as you can imagine, at various times throughout the day, the mommas nurse the kittens. Now there is no sorting of the kittens. The kittens just go to whoever they want? is closest? I don’t quite get their logic.
Elsie (the momma in the picture) is our momma kitty, and is the mom of the other 3 cats we have. She is also the mother of a litter of 5 this Spring. Her daughter, Satin (not pictured), had 7, of which 6 survived.
I saw this kitten pile earlier and had to take a picture before I opened the door and disturbed them.
The kitten pile – some sleeping and some nursing
“I’ve got to move”
Mom (and Grandma) Elsie checking it out – she is mom to the bigger kittens and grandma to the smaller ones
Yesterday I went to a friend’s farm to learn how to make soap. Well, that was the intended purpose. And we did make soap. But we did plenty of other things. 🙂
I got there at about 8:45 a.m., just a little late for goat milking. I love goats. I have wanted goats for awhile. I love milking, but I have never milked a cow. Just a goat. I also like goats because they are smaller. And their milk tastes fine if you handle it properly. So I got to milk a goat for a little bit. Mrs. O. also had some kids, and they were very adorable. Two were pretty young, so they are little and very soft. Another kid is being bottle fed, so it follows Mrs. O. around like Mrs. O. is her mother. The kid’s name is Lindy. She is also very cute. I stood with the goats and pet them as they all gathered around me. The two youngest kids nibbled at my skirt. I also went up into the hayloft. What is so special about the hayloft? I could see Mrs. O. and the goats down below me while I swept up the stray bits of hay.
After the milking, we went in to make soap. First we had to find all Mrs. O.’s soap making supplies, as she had them in different places. When we had the buckets of oil out, we ran into a minor dilemma. One bucket of oil wasn’t labeled, and another was labeled as two different things. We spent some time examining the oils and trying to determine what they were. This is important, because when you make soap, you have to use a specific amount of lye for each different type of oil. If we didn’t figure the oils out, the soap wouldn’t work. Just as we decided which oil was which, I went back to get another bucket of the coconut oil to see what it looked like. Thankfully I did, because it turned out that what we thought was palm kernel oil was actually coconut, and vice versa.
Making the soap was actually not hard at all. Most of the time was spent getting the oils and lye to cool to the proper temperature. After that it didn’t take long. We decided to scent it peach gardenia , and color the soaps pink. Mrs. O. cut the bars today, and said they are lovely. I can’t wait to make more.
Once the soap was in the mold, we cleaned up, then ate lunch. After lunch we walked down to The Church.
The Church is an old country church just down the road from their home. It is so close, you can see it from their house. There aren’t any services there anymore, except for a memorial service there once a year. Mrs. O. said that there hasn’t been a regular service for about 50 years.
Around The Church is an old cemetery. We spent some time walking around in the cemetery on the right side of The Church, where the older gravestones are. The oldest stone that we saw was dated 1871. There were a few that only had initials on them, and we were guessing that those could be even older.
Then we went inside. The pews are still there, and there is a big table made out of some boards set atop some pews for when they have a potluck. There are two old pianos up in front, and I was able to play one. It was out of tune and the keys stuck a little, but it was still wonderful.
After we came back, we (Mrs. O., Mrs. O.’s daughter Holly, and I) went for a ride around their property. We were looking for a calf that was born a few days ago, but we weren’t able to find it. We got to see anther calf, though, and the goats that they have out grazing in the field, and the sheep. I shot a few pictures.
After our ride, we made some mocha milkshakes and sat around and talked. Soon it was time for dinner, and I went home after the evening milking.
It was so fun. Thank you so much for having me out, Mrs. O. and Holly! I can’t wait until we do it again!
Mrs. O. …
…making the lye mixture
Stirring the melted oils – Those are all the soap pictures that I took. I will post more when she gives me the soap
Going to The Church – the dogs came with us
The front door
The graveyard on the left
Lots of old gravestones
These only had initials on them
Inside The Church – the pianos are one behind the other
The piano I couldn’t play
Up above, where you would usually put your music
Mrs. O. put this Bible there. She said that she thought it needed to be there, just in case.
The piano I played
The ceiling – just thought you would like to see it
Walking out of The Church
Macy! Meiling loves this dog. 🙂
The door – they tie it shut so it won’t blow open
There is a board of directors that still takes care of the building. It is kept in great shape.
A barn across the way
And some trees 🙂
You have to love those gravel roads
The sweet calf
They have one tan sheep, for color
The goats that they have out for grazing (these are not the milk goats) coming to meet us
While we were leaving, the sun was setting