Saturday, August 9, 2008

More canning.

I took advantage of our crazy cool weather and did some more canning today. It's 3 o'clock right now and only 63 degrees out. Perfection. I also told Tim to take an allergy pill because I was turning off the AC and opening the windows. He seems to be doing alright so far.

I started off with the pickled beets and eggs. I wasn't originally going can the beets. I wasn't sure if you could do a water bath and preserve something with eggs in it. So what I did was do a half and half batch. I first had to boil all of the beets for about 35 minutes and then I cooled them off and peeled them. What a mess! They smelled awesome though. I love me some beets. After they were peeled, I sliced them and got them ready to put into their pickling mix. Connor was eating the plain sliced beets before I could even finish cutting them all up. They went into the mix and boiled for 5 minutes and then I threw the eggs in. I was warming the jars up while the beets and eggs were brewing. I filled up two large containers and fished out the eggs and a bunch of the beets and put them in the fridge. The rest of the beets I put into the jars and sealed them all up. I was proud of myself because I remembered all of the steps this time...get the air bubbles out, make sure the top is clean and put the seal down. I got four pints of pickled beets into the water bath and they processed for thirty minutes. I cleaned the kitchen up before I started the pickles.

beets cooking for about 35 minutes

Most of the beets were really easy to peel. I kind of just squished them in my hands and the peel rolled right off.

Sliced and ready to go into pickling mixture.

Beets and eggs cooking before I pulled eggs out into a couple of separate containers.

Now, the pickles. I was still trying to figure out whether to do bread and butter or dill. I saw Eric make bread and butter ones on Gardenfork TV the other days so knew that I wanted to try at least some of those. So, I sliced up a little over half of my cucumbers and 2 large onions. I was an idiot and didn't realize that they were going to have to sit in salt for an hour and a half. So, I got them sliced and layered with salt in a big bowl and then I topped them with ice like the recipe said. I had an hour and a half to kill so I baked some chocolate chip cookies. The kids were annoyed that I made some the other day to take to the party and they didn't get many. I also got the pizza dough started and rising while I was waiting for the cukes to finish their salt process. When it was time, I made the vinegar mixture and brought it to a boil. I tossed the cukes and onions in and they boiled for five minutes and then I filled 7 pints up. I had a couple of problems with the recipe but it was my own fault. I was supposed to put 2 tbsp of mustard seed in and I only had one left and it also called for celery seed, which I didn't have any...but they look pretty good. With the other cukes I was going to slice them into spears and make them into dill pickles. Long story short, I didn't have a pickling mix. After googling how to make my own pickling mixture, I realized that I didn't have three of the spices I needed. So the cukes are back in the fridge and I might attempt them tomorrow if I can get to the store. Tim is going to be making his tomato sauce tomorrow and we are going to can that, so the big pot will still be out and I can make those. Although, let me tell you, I am beat right now.

Layers of sliced cucumbers, onions and salt.

The bowl of cukes and onions sits for an hour and a half under ice.

Because I'm a glutton for punishment and can't take an hour and a half to relax I make cookies while waiting.

Cucumbers and onions cooking in the pickling mixture waiting to go into jars.

FINISHED! 7 pints of bread and butter pickles and 4 pints of pickled beets. Plus two large containers of beets and eggs in fridge. I have to figure out how to keep my kids out of them so they can develop their flavor over a couple of days.

I have to go punch down the pizza dough and let it go through it's second rise and I think I'm going to let Tim make the pizzas tonight. At least there is a Buffalo Bills game on tonight. After dinner I can shower and get my pj's on and enjoy some football. Go Bills. Kill the Redskins.

Friday, August 8, 2008


It's Friday. Tim is working a half day today. My house is a mess. I have a billion things I want to do today and this weekend and I'm trying to figure out my priorities. Not fun. I did get all the bills paid this morning so that is out of the way. I also got out into the gardens before the rain starts again. We had another half inch of rain last night that came down in about 5 minutes. It sounded like a flood gate had been opened it rained so hard. It's only 65 degrees out now and I think the highs all weekends are supposed to be in the low 70's. They said on the newscast last night that we had "fall weather" planned for the weekend. That made me smile. While out in the garden, I harvested some more tomatoes, leaving about 5 on the plants to ripen up a tad more. Tim is going to make his pasta sauce again this weekend and I'm going to try and can some of it.

future sauce

The pear tree still has pears on it. I'm surprised because I've heard that the squirrels strip them off all the time. They aren't ripe yet, so that may be why.

Yummy pears!

Not much else going on over here. I wanted to put up a picture of what Tim got me. It came in the mail today. He ordered it from OrangeClouds115 over at Daily Kos. I wish it had shown up yesterday so I could have worn it last night, but I'll wear it today!

Thanks OrangeClouds115 and Tim.

Ok, I'm off to go figure out what I'm going to do before I throw my hands up and do nothing but knit. Have a great weekend!

A day late.

Yesterday was farmer market Thursday and I didn't get a chance t0 post because we had so much going on. It was a very busy day. Aidan and I got school done first thing and then both boys got haircuts. They look so much better. They were so shaggy looking and now they are super cute again. Then we went to the market. It was "kid's day" there and if we had been there earlier we would have been able to partake in face painting and Clifford the Big Red Dog (although both boys said they were "too old" for that) and balloon art and things, but they did get to go into the "fire house". Basically the fire department has this trailer set up like a home and then they had all the kids go in and sit through a 15 minute fire safety lesson. They explained what to do in a fire, the importance of having a safe spot outside to meet up with and things like this. It ended up with them having a smoke machine fill the trailer with smoke and the fire alarm going off and the all the children crept along the floor to the door to escape the "fire". It was funny because Tim sat outside the trailer while I went and got some produce and when I came back I walked up to smoke billowing out of the trailer and the sounds of squeals coming from inside. Aidan slid along the floor like a little military man and hopped down the steps and then Connor came out shortly after close to the floor. They appeared to have a good time and then I had to hear for the next thirty minutes everything they learned. They told me I should have been there for the kitchen safety if I needed it. I've only started a couple of fires that I was able to quickly put out. So, they had fun and I was happy because being that they are homeschooled, they don't get to school held fire safety events. While they were in learning I was able to get all of this:

for $14.50. I got a bunch of beets to make pickled beets. We ate all of our beets out of the garden and I really wanted to try and make Nancy's pickled beets and eggs that she always makes. She was kind enough to share the recipe with me and didn't have to eliminate me after telling me. Thanks Nancy. We will be doing those tomorrow. I have to go to the store and get some whole allspice today. I've never heard of it before, I've only seen the powdered version of that. I also got a load of cucumbers for pickles. I don't know if I'm going to do dill or bread and butter. We are getting cukes off our plants, but they are not coming in fast enough to get a bunch all together plus we keep eating them right off the vine. I got Connor a cantaloupe because they are his favorite and some onions because one can never have enough onions.

After the market Aidan and I made some chocolate chip cookies to take to the grand opening of the Obama campaign office in our city. We took cookies and a bunch of soda. I was really surprised at how many people showed up to this opening. The kids had a lot of fun although Aidan was getting tired of it towards the end. It was really hot in the office and that was starting to make them cranky towards the end. Plus they were getting camera shy by the end because everyone was taking pictures of them. Connor was excited though because he got to meet Senator Bob Casey. The senator shook his hand and asked him his name and chatted with him for a minute. Connor was glowing. He said he was never going to wash his hand again. I told him I still have one better because I got to shake Obama's hand.

sign outside of office

Connor and Senator Casey

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Nine years ago today...

Tim and I were walking down the aisle. Well, sort of. We were walking down the aisle in the Orlando courthouse. I still remember it like it was yesterday. I giggled through the vows standing under the white arbor with fake flowers. Ahhh, good times. It was perfect. Neither one of us are very traditional and didn't want a big wedding. It's been a good nine years. It's funny because I think of our next nine years together and then realize that Connor will be 17. That is a scary thought!! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY Tim. I love you and would marry you all over again.

There is a lot going on in the garden. Most of it is good, but some of it has me concerned and will have me doing some reading and research this afternoon. First the good. We had an inch of rain overnight last night so that made for a very happy garden this morning. I was going to have to do some watering this morning if it hadn't rained. It's almost noon here in August and it's only 65 degrees out. It is so nice out right now with a breeze blowing and I wish I could open the windows up but because of Tim's allergies, we have to keep it all closed up. At least it's nice and dry inside. I'm getting off track. Garden news.

I am so happy with my coleus that I planted out front in my shade garden. They have tripled in size and are so pretty. In fact, all of my flowers are doing really well in the shade garden this year.

Our green peppers are really starting to come in. We've picked three or four of them so far and they are amazing. We used one as a pizza topping last Friday. So good. The plants are full of them ready to be picked still. I'm not a real big fan of green peppers so I'm thinking I might let a few stay until they turn red.

We have a head of broccoli ready to be picked too. I was worried about our broccoli because we had to pick a small little head a while back because they were starting to open up. Thanks to our mild weather all four plants have multiple heads growing again.

I don't know how this happened, but somehow we have two cucumbers that trained themselves to come out the back of the trellis and hang making it so much easier to pick. So far we've eaten all the cucumbers that we've picked. I don't think we are going to get any pickles made this year.

Now for the bad. Well, not necessarily bad. I will have to do some research to determine what's going on.

The potatoes. Both patches have completely flopped over. Is this normal? Should we have staked them up somehow? And man, they take forever. My patience is wearing thin. Tim pulled one of the plants last week to see if we had any potatoes yet and there were a couple really super tiny ones that were not even big enough to eat. We planted them back down. I did see one larger one peeking out of the dirt the other day and quickly covered it up. Hopefully it will be ok. I'm just not sure about the whole flopping over thing.

This little critter was on one of the blossoms of the mystery squash in the back gardens. I tried to look it up but couldn't find conclusive results of what it is. I wondered if it was a potato beetle, but there aren't any on the potatoes that I've been able to see.

I'm pretty sure now that this is a pumpkin plant that is taking over the back patio. And when I say taking over, I mean it has taken over half of the patio and has wrapped around the sage plant there in the pot. The leaves appear to have powdery mildew on them now. Not sure if that will affect the pumpkins or not. It's covered with blossoms and I keep looking for little pumpkins growing but nothing yet. Tim and I were dreaming about pumpkin pies and pumpkin muffins the other day while we were out inspecting it.

One of the possibly pumpkin flowers. I didn't even notice the bugs when I took this picture. I saw them after I uploaded it. It appears to be more of the same kind of bug that is on the squash in the other yard. I really need to figure out if these are good bugs or bad bugs. Oh, and speaking of bad bugs. I haven't really seen many more of the Japanese beetles. Whew. I think we missed a major pain in the butt.

I hope everyone is having a fantastic day. Thanks for stopping by my garden.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Sunflower picked from under one of the bird feeders.

All is quiet on the gardening front. We had a pretty low key weekend and I feel refreshed today.

Saturday, Tim picked these tomatoes:

He proceeded to take two of the big green ones and make fried green tomatoes. Connor got into it too. He got his apron on and helped dip the tomato slices into the batter and move them to the skillet. They were an amazing lunch and Connor had a lot of fun. Connor also got to dabble in sewing. Last week I finally got the big desk moved around in the dining room and set up my craft corner. I pulled out my sewing machine and it will stay out now. We finished an apron I had started last year. Now my sewing projects are all done and I'm on the hunt for something new to do.

Sunday was the laziest day I think I've ever had. I got up and made french toast Alton Brown style and then did nothing the rest of the day. I even napped in the middle of the day. I think I needed it because I feel better today. Plus last night we got to see pre-season football. Oh yeah, it's almost football season again. Have I mentioned that I love the fall?! I did wander out into the garden and we pulled all of this:

We were starting to drown in tomatoes so Tim made this most amazing pasta sauce. He used everything out of our garden. He used tomatoes, basil, zucchini and green pepper and also a hot pepper. He blended it all up in the blender so Aidan wouldn't see the veggies and we had it last night over whole wheat penne pasta. It was delicious and Aidan gave it 1,000 thumbs up and inhaled it. Aidan is usually my picky eater and he actually ate pan fried tilapia on Saturday night. I was shocked. Oh, and he lost his second tooth on Saturday. I joked with him that the two teeth he lost much have been his picky teeth. He said they were and now he loved everything. One can only hope.

Today has been pretty good so far. I got up at 6 with Tim and we did our thirty minute workout. Most of you know that I am so not a morning person and it was a struggle to get up and do it but once I was up and done with the workout I felt better. We are going to get up every morning at 6 and do the workout and then we are going to do a Qi Gong workout every night before bed. I figure if I write that down here, I will have to stick with it, right? Well, at least that is the plan. I also started Aidan's school today. He has been bugging me to get started so we did two reading lessons, a math lesson and a social studies lesson. He is going to do great in school. I think he has the unfair advantage of watching Connor for three years now though. When Connor started school we had never done anything like that. Connor has been homeschooled since kindergarten and is starting the third grade this year. Aidan has been sitting along side Connor and I for that time and has learned a lot. Heck, he is even starting first grade math this year instead of Kindergarten math. I think I'll wait until the "official" first day of school with Connor. Most of his classes are based online now and a lot of them aren't up and running yet. Which is ok. That will give me a month to get Aidan settled and to try and get a routine going.

I have a loaf of bread that is about to go into the oven, so I should go do that and go look through my seeds I have and see if there is anything I want to plant. Nancy asked me this morning if I had any spinach or beet seeds. I know I'm out of beet seeds, but I'm pretty sure I have some spinach ones left. When I was at the dairy last week I noticed that they had seeds for 50% off. I might have to run over there in the next couple of days and check it out. I need half n half anyway.

Have a great day!