Monday, September 15, 2014

Still At It

 I'm still busy canning and loving it. In between, LilG and I make other things like homemade salsa. This was an enormous tomato that we got from our farmshare. It's beautiful in its own way.

My husband traded a little work for all these vegetables. What a deal! There's cucumbers, yellow squash, wax beans, an acorn squash, carrots, onions, rutabaga and a few zucchini.

 In that box, was an experimental mini  watermelon. We have yet to try it.

We made chicken soup for the pressure canner. For some reason these didn't process properly so we are just eating them.

LilG and Fred have a special relationship. Fred just loves him like no one else. It's nice to see.

I made pickled squash out of the yellow squash. Seven pints. Whatever didn't fit in the jars I fried up for lunches.

I think vegetables look beautiful in jars.

Our cupboards are getting full. Don't worry, they're not stacked anymore. I found out you are not supposed to stack them because it breaks the seals. I'm looking forward to this winter when we get to eat all this. Not that I want to rush the seasons, but I just know it's going to be tasty.

Charlie eats all the ends of the veggies. It doesn't matter what it is.

These are the vegetables for the Hot Pickle Mix I made especially for LilG. A jalapeno goes into each jar. He likes things spicy. I hope it gets spicy enough for him!

The obligatory food in jars shot.

I've been busy cross-stitching. Finally making progress on this project.

With the rutabaga that we got, I made fries. I expected them to taste like an armpit but they were delicious!

Here's LilG and I working on homework. It's been a good schoolyear so far. LilG is volunteering for the school patrol. He starts flag football soon. His grades are pretty good which is hard for him.I'm proud of him.

Monday, September 8, 2014

I'm Falling in Love

With Canning! I just can't get enough! I was so scared of the pressure canner before I got one. But ohmygosh do I love my new Presto pressure canner!!

These are the finished potatoes that LilG and I did first.

The next day I started on carrots right away. I made myself an assembly line.

I filled six pints with the carrots that we had left in the fridge from our farmshare. As you can see, I cut them into large chunks. I read that if you cut them too small, they get mushy.

While I was canning carrots, my husband and son were planning our future garden. Look closely. It's going to be a circle. Fence is going up soon.

Then my husband and LilG took off for a 33.8 mile bike ride. Woo!

Meanwhile, at home I continued canning the carrots. There's six pints completed. Didn't they turn out beautiful?

I was hooked. The next day I decided to do more potatoes. Remember, we have a fifty pound bag of these suckers.

You have to watch the pressure canner carefully and make sure it stays right at 10 for forty minutes. AAAA Then, when it's done you take it off the heat and just let it sit until everything has cooled off.

This is what they looked like the next day. I love food in jars.

Friday, September 5, 2014

It's canning season!

It's wild plum time! We didn't do any major picking this year. Just sampled and ate a few. LilG more than me. Wild plums are sweet and with tart skins. In years past I have canned them. With two trees, I can only get two half-pints of jam. And it's not very good either. We use it to dress up our roasted chicken, which is quite tasty but not really worth all the work, I've decided.

My bee balm garden came back in full force this year. It was breezy on the day I took the picture so that's why it's a little blurry.

LilG is trying to teach Fred how to blow it up. Fred's not really interested.

My mom gave me her old pressure canner and we got a 50lb bag of potatoes in a community farm offering event. Put two and two together...LilG and I decided we were canning potatoes!

It took a lot of potatoes to fill five quarts! We got the pressure canner bubbling then everything started to go wrong. I was following directions from a website and getting help from a Twitter friend and realized that half the parts were missing from the canner and the noises it was making were SCARY. After twenty minutes or so I had to shut it down.

I was forced (haha) to go buy myself this beautiful new Presto Canner. It didn't make any screaming noises or shoot water at me and the lid easily came on and off. It worked like a dream. I re-processed the potatoes the next day and voila! I have learned a new skill and it wasn't as scary or as intimidating as I thought. We will be canning carrots next. I can't wait!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Harvest Time

I've been busy but not with quilty things. It's harvest time which is my favorite time of the year! I've been busy putting up vegetables for the freezer. 

I had two and a half gallon bags full of green and purple beans thrown haphazardly together. I carefully snapped off the tops and bottoms, then flash boiled all of them in a huge pot, which I had to do in two rounds. This turned the purple beans green. Then I rinsed all the beans with cold water and packed them in quart bags. Once they were all neatened up, and packed tight, they only took up five quart bags. I was a bit disappointed because they seemed like such a ton of beans. But hopefully we will get more yet.

The onions are huge this year! Just amazing!

The jalapenos are tiny. I wish I had put my hand in the picture for perspective. These had been growing FOREVER and I just don't think they were going to get any bigger. We had salsa to make and couldn't wait any longer.

This was dinner the other night. Garden fresh salsa. All of the vegetables were from the local farm or our garden. Tomatoes, cilantro, onions, jalapenos. Then we added some spices and waited for it to all meld together in flavor. It was so delicious.

LilG is the only person who can get our cat, Fred, to lay next to him willingly. Here, he picked Fred up and put him on the couch and Fred stayed there. Fred won't do this for anyone else. No way no how. Fred spent two years in our local shelter and it has very much affected him. We all take whatever attention we can get from our adorable kitty.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The CitySampler is Quilted!

Finally! The CitySampler quilt is quilted! I am so happy with how it turned out! I was more than a little nervous waiting. I was worried about the design being intrusive and the the thread showing up in the dark fabric but the design is lovely and the thread is perfect.

I took a few pictures of my favorite blocks as examples.

I think this whale is my favorite.

Up close, you can really see the quilting and how it flows but from far away you don't really see it at all. I'm so glad this part is done. Now if I could just pay someone to handbind it for me :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mostly Cat Pictures

I gathered another bunch of flowers for the kitchen. These were mostly the flowers that grow in the middle of hosta plants. I think these are really pretty in a vase but not-so-much in a hosta. I like a hosta flower-free.

My husband took this picture while I was sleeping. He couldn't resist. Fred, our cat, had his legs stretched around me. He's such a goofy cat. He looks so big in this picture. If you look closely, he's smiling for the camera.

I'm making some progress on this cross-stitch project. As with any cross-stitch project, it's slow going but I tackle an area at a time. I love how colorful it is.

There's no real reason for this picture except I just love it. Fred is so cute. He's on one of my favorite quilts (my mother-in-law made that one).

I finally, FINALLY ironed the backing for the City Sampler quilt top that I finished in May (or was it April?). I got the backing for Mother's Day. Yes, it really is that bright pink. The top itself is so colorful, I wanted something cheery for the back so I chose this pink polka dot and an aqua blue which I don't have a picture of. I sewed them together and laid them out on the floor. Then Charlie, my dog, laid on it so I couldn't lay out the batting. I had to wait another day. I snuck downstairs this morning and laid out the batting and quilt top on it and cut back the sides and folded it all up to bring to the long-arm lady. I brought it to her this afternoon. This is my first quilt that I am paying someone else to quilt. I chose a geometric box pattern. She has a very cool computerized Gammill that is hands-off as it quilts. I didn't even know that you could do that!

This is my view each day as I relax and read. Pretty nice.

As I was on my way to pick up our CSA Farmshare box, I took this picture. I pass by several farms on the way. Our house is on a little 5-acre plot between large farms of different varieties. We are nestled in the trees but I do dream about getting a few chickens of our own someday. For now, we just buy what we can from local farmers.

We have wild raspberries growing around the perimeter of our yard and I pick every day. They are so tasty!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

This and That

My husband and son were training recently for a 5k. My husband took the picture below as an example of how much faster my son is than can't even see him in the distance. They ran the 5k on Friday and my son came in 1st place in the children's class by a lot. He'll definitely have to join track when he gets into high school! He's going into sixth grade this fall.

I took the kids berry picking at a local berry farm. These were our jewels. We made strawberry shortcake and chocolate-covered strawberries and stuffed ourselves silly.

Our local farmshare box is getting better and better each week. This week we received two different kinds of lettuce, onions, parsley, a big green pepper, carrots, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, broccoli and spinach. I've been reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life and it is really opening my eyes further to how distanced we are normally from our food. I'm proud of our family for buying a local pig and chickens and doing the farmshare even though it costs more. We know exactly where that part of our food comes from and we watched it grow up. It didn't burn tons of gas to get to our plate. We still have a ways to go but it's a start.

My favorite part of the farmshare is snacking on the sugar snap peas. We got a fairly large bag of them and they were gone by the second day.

I reclaimed a garden that was mostly destroyed by the excavator when we built our new house. This is what it looked like before. Mostly weeds and grass.

Here it is after. The weeds and grass are gone. Now you can see bee balm, an orange lily, in the lower right corner is a currant bush, and all along the back right edge are hostas.