Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jam Session

This morning I went strawberry pickin' and got two flats of berries. The results of Strawberry season 2011:

~Three batches of jam (2 strawberry rhubarb and 1 plain strawberry)
~Strawberry shortcake (of course!)
~4 batches of strawberries ready to be made into jam in the freezer
(that way I can make jam in the middle of winter when there isn't any other produce available!)
~2 bags of strawberries individually frozen then bagged for fresh eatin' or baking this winter
~2 big fresh strawberry pies made with a fabulous crust recipe I got from MaryJane's big book
~2 quarts of fresh eating strawberries for my family to snack on this week

The weather this morning was so beautiful for berry picking, it was sunny, a little cloudy, just the right amount of breeze and the temperature was just perfect! Then I got home and my kids were totally amazing little "helpers"! Evelyn had to have her hair up and her little apron on "just like mama" she says. It was the first time she left her hair up! Usually she takes it down right away but today she wanted to be "just like mama". It was the sweetest thing ever. The kids were underfoot, but in a good way today. They played with their toys in the kitchen while I washed, hulled, crushed, made jam, and everything else and if they got bored in the kitchen they went into their room to play with their toys there.

Today I felt like I was finally accomplishing something! It made me feel like it is my dream coming true. One of my favorite songs for years was more like my dream for the future. It is Tim McGraw's "Where the Green Grass Grows". That pretty much summed up what my dreams were for the future. Now I am married, renting a little farm house in the country, 2 kids and one on the way, a nice big garden, some animals (although we are downsizing for the time being in the animal department!). Now I am putting up food. What a great feeling. A worker bee but in a good way, I don't want to work myself to death! I loved the smells of today, the jams, the fresh berries, the way the strawberries smelled up the truck on the drive home. The way the kids "helped" me out by being extra sweet today. The feeling of finishing up hulling the very last berry and looking at the washed dishes drying on the counter waiting to be put away when dried. The way the jars of fresh jam sitting on the counter waiting to  be labeled then stored until ready to use. The way the fresh strawberry shortcake tastes. Oh goodness you can taste the sunshine in each strawberry they are so fresh! I wouldn't have it any other way. I wouldn't want to just buy my jam or strawberries in some tube lightbulb lit store with it's factory smells.

Yes, "I want to live where the good Lord blessed" and I do!

Plus praise the Lord each and every jar sealed!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Breakfast on the Farm!

We had a great time at Breakfast on the Farm yesterday morning! We had planned on going to church afterward but we didn't realize what a big deal it is so by the time we made it at the front of the line to pay to eat it was already time for church! I was surprised to find out what a big deal it was because this was the first time both my husband and I had ever gone to one! The kids had a blast too! The food was great, we got to tour some of the barns, the kids LOVED seeing the cows and "baby cows", they had a little petting zoo, face painting a kids activity center and balloons. We also got to see an observation bee hive. That was so neat! Bees are really neat creatures!

It was nice being able to be by cows again. They are by far my favorite animals and my dream has been and still is to own a dairy farm some day. I loved farming (especially the dairy part!) and I have missed all the smells that went with it. It was so relaxing and peaceful smelling all those comfort smells.

One of the reasons I love the midwest/great lakes area so much is the dairy farming and the water.

We should hopefully find out what the baby's gender is tomorrow! I am so very excited to find out! I am kind of hoping it is a girl because I have the cutest baby floor quilt planned out. If it is a boy that is fine too, I will just have to make the girls quilt and hope I have another girl someday! I already made Evelyn a quilt, I still have to make Ruger one. I guess if the baby does turn out to be a buy I can make two boy quilts at once. I'd like to make a small quilt for each kid. Evelyn's I made big enough so she could crawl around on the floor but also use it for a throw when she gets older. Same idea applies to Ruger's and the new baby's.

I watered half my garden yesterday afternoon before bible study. I need to get my potatoes hilled up before the thunderstorms come this afternoon so I am hoping to get outside with the kids shortly here so I can get that finished. I was hoping to do more weeding today but as long as I do some it will help in the long run! I don't want to get overrun with weeds. I am slowly catching up with weeding though, slowly but surely!

Well today it just looks like garden work and laundry today! I will call about the strawberries later this morning to find out when I can go picking! I am thinking I will do that on wednesday, as long as the rain holds off just long enough for me to get enough for jam and a few bags for freezing for eating this winter! Then it can rain all it wants! Or I will have to go some other day! Wednesday would be the best though since tomorrow is the ultrasound day!

Well, off to continue on this day's journey!

Seize the day!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer weather is coming back!!!

The past two weeks have been pretty hit or miss with sunshine. The last week was not so summery but perfect for what I needed to get done in the house! I'm so thankful for the variety of weather we get!

Last night after the kids went to bed I went outside to look over the animals and I decided to take my time checking on the garden. I was very surprised to see, pleasantly I might add, that my cool weather crops are coming up with a vengeance!!!  This cool rainy weather has been such a blessing in so many ways! I hate it when people complain about the weather, sure we all want sunshine but sometimes we need a little rain to get back on track!

Not only have my cool weather crops came up wonderfully (except my peas) but the weeds have also came up in what seems like overnight! So I spent about an hour picking out the bigger weeds. I do not have time today or tomorrow, but possibly later this coming week I will have to really concentrate on my garden! I don't want to let those weeds get the upper hand on me! I need to get my scarecrow cowgirl set up and placed in the garden too.

I mowed the lawn just last week and despite the cool weather and lack of sunshine the grass grew like crazy too! Now this coming week will be more "seasonal" in the 70's-90's so I will have to plan accordingly. I also have to get out to pick strawberries. They are just starting to ripen in the patches here and if the temperature really does get that high they will go really fast. Last year they were only good for about a week, then they rotted right on the vine. I was so thankful I got to pick strawberries and process some jam and frozen ones before baby #2 was born! In fact I had been hoping to go into labor and my due date was that Friday. I went picking on Wednesday before my due date and went into labor about 2 hours after I put the last strawberry in the freezer! I also canned about 2 dozen pints of strawberry jam before I froze the rest! Wow, talk about thankful! If I hadn't gone out that day I would have missed out on the berries because by that weekend the patches weren't open for picking anymore!

I can't wait to process strawberries this year! I've already did violet jelly, dandelion jelly, rhubarb jelly, now it's strawberries turn! My house is pretty much organized, although not decorated as homey as I would like it, I still need to get my farmgirl touch on this house, but that will come with time! It is more important to put away food for the winter. I do NOT want another winter like last! It was so awful having to buy store bought jelly after I ran out of my strawberry jam! Plus I wasn't able to preserve anything from a garden because I wasn't able to have a garden last year. Oh nothing is like the taste of a homegrown tomato, still warm from the sun and sliced between some homemade bread! Oh nothing like summer time! I am excited to taste my heirloom varieties this year! I am trying a new one out from Italy! It is like a beef steak but  can also be used for sauces! Yay for more than one use! That is why I love heirloom varieties soo very much!

Happy Summertime!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Restful Thursday

Today I woke up with a headache. Good thing I was so productive yesterday! Yesterday afternoon I made rhubarb jelly since we were getting low in the jelly department. (Okay, I have four jars left but that is too low  for my taste!).

It was the first time I ever made rhubarb jelly and it is such a pretty color! I used liquid pectin since I had some left from earlier this spring when I made violet and dandelion jellies.

The recipe is a small one which is perfect since I only have one rhubarb plant in the backyard! I must get some more rhubarb plants! That is a must have! I need to find some more rhubarb so I can make strawberry rhubarb jam!!! Yikes! I better get looking!!!

Here is the recipe for rhubarb jelly that I used:
4 cups chopped rhubarb
1 1/2 cups water
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 pouch pectin
1/2 tsp butter (optional)

1) Combine rhubarb and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Process through a jelly strainer. Measure juice. Add water if necessary to yield 1 3/4 cups juice

2) Prepare jars and lids. Combine rhubarb juice and sugar and mix well. Over high heat bring to a hard boil. Add pectin and boil hard for one more minute, stirring constantly. Skim off foam. Pour into jars with 1/4" head space. Process in hot water bath for 10 minutes. Makes 3 half pint jars. (It made me almost 2 pints though).

Today I am just taking it easy with this migraine of mine. I am hoping it will go away after I do some exercises. It is hard being pregnant and having headaches although I only get migraines when I'm pregnant. It is a very rare occasion to get one when I'm not pregnant. Anyhow tomorrow I am getting a new look with my hair. I'm not sure if I am going to just get a trim or make the plunge and get bangs. Not sure yet. I will have to continue pondering this!

Time to get back to the kiddo's!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Halfway through another week already! I forgot I wanted to get to Aldi right away in the morning to get some of their new specials but I'm not up to taking the kids out by myself right now. I still am pretty overtired and stiff, and just not feeling like my normal self yet. I should be getting my new supplements in today or tomorrow, I will be so thankful when I can start feeling normal again! Pregnant but normal will be so welcome!

I am starting a Cal/Mag/Zinc supplement, Flax seed oil, and milk thistle to support my body during pregnancy. This is my third pregnancy in three years so I'm sure my body is just completely zapped. I'm sure after a week or two I should start feeling better again! Plus it will be nice when I can start harvesting things from my garden! Nothing like fresh out of the garden, oh I can't wait!

Yesterday I made a homemade casserole from noodles I had on hand, a can of cream of mushroom soup, can of milk and a pack of venison from two years ago that mysteriously showed up in my freezer! If I knew that was there I would have cooked it a long time ago!!! It was a blessing that I could make it last night though. It was almost 2 pounds of stew meat. I fried it up with an onion and a few cloves of garlic and some special steak seasoning I use for venison then I cooked the noodles, drained them. I mixed the cream of mushroom soup and milk together, put the noodles in my 8x11 pan put in the venison then poured the cream of mushroom soup over top and mixed well. Covered with aluminum foil and put in the oven at 350 until nice and hot. About 15-30 minutes depending on how hot you want it. Oh, before I put in the oven I put some fresh ground pepper, some Montreal Steak seasoning and a little garlic salt on top THEN I put in the oven :)

It turned out so delicious! The whole family liked it, and since I seasoned it just so something that would have been plain and bland was turned into a super easy, harmonious comfort food casserole perfect for a chilly rainy day! Score one for mommy!!! :) I love those moments when simplicity and harmony come together. Love it!

Today I am just going to do what I do best and during the kids nap I will get to finish chores outside and also hopefully finish the head band for the crochet hat I started. I am so excited that I am actually making something other than an easy pattern scarf! I like being intermediate! It means I am progressing in my crochet quest! I would love to make a nice Christmas afghan to enjoy this winter season. Especially with a new baby I think it would be nice to have some nice afghans around the house. They are so festive (especially in red,white,green) and easy decorations to make your house look like Christmas. I should probably get started soon but I need to learn more skills as a crocheter first! After this hat I think I may just start one. It won't hurt to start! I did find some Intermediate/Expert patterns that actually said "intermediate/expert" so maybe that means it is the next step! Well off to spend some time with the kiddos!

Enjoy the day!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

1st Birthday, Long lost relatives and new projects. . .

Saturday was my son's first birthday party! It was army themed because he used to do the army crawl forever! He preferred the army crawl to the regular crawl. It was so cute! I made him a cake and for all the guest I made "cake grenades". I made cupcakes and before I frosted them I put the "hardware" on then I frosted it. It was pretty neat. If I had more time I could have found color appropriate candy but on limited time and money I just got what I could!

I forgot to take pictures of the "cake grenades" but basically I had the twizzlers pull and peel licorice and I pulled them into separate pieces and broke them in half. Then I put one of those peach gummy rings and I put the them on the cupcake with a huge malted milk ball and pressed down to keep it all intact. Then I frosted the entire thing (milk ball and all) so it looked like a grenade pretty much complete with the gummy pull pin!

I warned everyone before serving what the hardware entailed so there wouldn't be any broken teeth! Everyone loved it! I had so much fun decorating the cake too!

On Sunday, Father's Day we went on a few hour drive to see my Great- Grandma, Great- Uncle and some 2nd cousins that I haven't met yet! The last time I got to see them was 10-12 years ago when my Great Grandpa was still living! That is just too long. They are from downstate Michigan and we just haven't had the money to go down to visit them. We were going to go down for my cousin's wedding last year but Ruger decided to come the day before her wedding! The hospital's policy is a 2 day stay and so we were stranded there. I was very disappointed because I had been waiting to get a 5 generation picture ever since our daughter was born! Praise the Lord they decided to come up closer so we could make a day trip out of it! It was super nice being able to see family after years, and also meet some cousins I haven't met yet. It was fabulous. Our kids had a blast too! I think they will love camping when they get older, haha. We were right on the lake and Evelyn just wanted to go swimming in the worst way and she loves canoe rides! What a hunny!

Both kids loved watching the seagulls and ducks. It was nice because the ducks had babies so the kids really had fun watching them. Especially since we have ducks here at home for their pets.

Monday I pretty much just recovered from the past 2 weeks of planning parties the past two weekends, the long day trip on Sunday so I pretty much hit rock bottom Sunday afternoon.

Today I am feeling the same. I was able to clean up a bit, doing the dishes, sweeping the floors and I am working on laundry. I'm so exhausted I don't know how I have been able to do what I have done so far. The weather sure isn't helping. It's been chilly (60's) cloudy and rainy since Sunday so besides being pregnant and over tired that just doesn't help. I am worried about my warm weather crops in the garden. I hope this cold spell doesn't stunt their growth. The cabbage and cool weather crops sure love the cool rainy weather! They really shot up! My corn doesn't look like it has grown much the past week though. Somewhat concerned about that and my squash and of course tomatoes and peppers.

The sunflowers are hardly coming up too, I hope they grow to full strength by the end of the summer!

Today I started a new crochet project and I worked on it for about an hour. I am using an intermediate pattern and this is my first hat I am making. I am working on the cuff of the hat first and it is pretty interesting. I am about halfway done with it. I can't wait to finish it! I hope I can retain what I am learning so I can progress to making more difficult projects. I am finally moving on from the easy patterns! It is a little scary but liberating at the same time! I suppose learning something new always is! Which reminds me I need to start practicing my  violin too. I also need to buckle down and finally decide what language to learn so I can start working on it. I want my kids to be at least bilingual and I want to learn a few different languages so it is making it difficult on which one to start first.

Well I best be off, I have to figure out what kind of a casserole to whip up for dinner tonight. I can't think of a better dinner on a cold, rainy summer day. Casserole is the ultimate comfort food for the country kitchen (and cook!)


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thankful Thursday!

Today I woke up and it was too wet and still misting out so I missed my outside devotions this morning. So I curled up on the couch with a blanket and looked out the window!

I am so thankful for where we live, the weather is just fabulous for my garden, pumpkin pie spice coffee, a good nights rest, and I am thankful for every time I feel Baby #3 kick. This baby isn't as active as my other two were, but maybe the baby is just warming up! We find out June 28th if Baby 3 is a boy or girl! I hope baby cooperates so we can get a good look!

I invented my own recipe yesterday morning for Strawberry Banana Muffins. I didn't have any eggs so I substituted applesauce instead. I didn't have butter so I had to use oil. I added some spices of course your flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar and of course the banana and strawberries! They turned out fabulous! My kids love them!

Dolly our puppy is doing well, she is starting to adapt well to us and she is starting to grow! It's crazy how fast puppies can grow in just a week! I am so glad that her and Bobby our cat get along! He is so patient with Dolly. He is a good family cat.

We are starting to downsize our chicken operation. I hate feeding chickens that aren't giving a return. I need 1-3 dozen eggs a week and they quit giving me an egg a day. So there goes my eggs! They are on their second laying cycle so apparently it's normal. I have five 4 month old pullet chicks that will start laying soon and I also have 3 or 4 six week old pullet chicks that will hopefully fill in that gap. We will also downsize to one rooster and call it a plan. We had over 50 chickens including our meat birds and that is just too much on my plate right now. I feel good about our decision for a 10 and under plan for chickens. Then I get enough good eggs for our family and cooking and I will be feeding them for a return. Once they are in their 2nd molt I will upgrade to more pullet chicks and can the old ones.

Today I have to bake my son's cakes for his party tomorrow. The lil man is turning ONE!!!! I can't believe I have been blessed with a whole year already! Praise the Lord! I am so thankful I can be a mommy, I have wonderful kids!

Well time to get to work! The lawn needs mowing, house a little freshening up for company tomorrow and of course, the cake!!! I will be sure to upload some pictures to share of Ruger's First Birthday Cake!

Another day to be blessed as a mama,

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fabulous June Tuesday

This morning has been fabulous so far. It always helps to have a good morning but not necessary to having a good day!

I woke up 45 minutes early and decided to get up and get outside early this morning. So I fired up the coffee maker, got some comfy outdoor clothes on and headed outside. I walked around the yard, praying then I had my morning devotions. While I was reading my devotions this morning our puppy fell asleep with her head on my left foot and our cat fell asleep with his head on my right foot! It was so cute, I wish I had my camera with me this morning! The sun coming through the big tree in the backyard was absolutely gorgeous!

Sun sparkling in the morning dew, shadows dancing from the morning sun, the fog leaving from the coolness of the night, the morning birds singing the glories of the coming day. Silence. All that nature's business is like an orchestra to my senses. But it is still. silence. peaceful.

I realized I am so blessed this morning. All that I have I had been taking for granted. I just praised the Lord for all He has done. Then I realized I had forgotten to continue writing in my gratitude journal. No wonder I had been slowly getting on the path of negativity. I am so thankful for this morning to get back on the right track!

We got a new puppy this week, half black and tan hound and half chocolate lab. She is all black with a few random white hairs and a really neat coat. It's not quite lab and not quite hound! She already howls like a hound, it is so cute. She is great with the kids too, although at times either the kids or the puppy can get a little rough! Have to keep a constant close eye on them! We decided to name her Dolly. For Dolly Parton. The name fits her, she is such a cute puppy, very vocal, very country.

We also were able to find homes for 10 of our chickens. It feels wonderful downsizing. I still would like to find homes for 13-15 more of our chickens so then we just have the new pullet chicks. We decided we are not going to raise any more meat birds until our kids are old enough to help. It has been way to much for me feeding 40 chickens, 3 ducks, a horse, two goats, a cat, my kids, a husband and myself. Not to mention with a baby on the way and our huge garden. . . Plus with just moving here and the yard needs to get organized, as well as the rest of the house (I am almost done organizing the house! Only two rooms left! Then I can decorate it!)

I was just over my head. Once the house is organized, the yard is organized I will feel much more comfortable expanding our animals. For now the horse and goat are on 100% pasture so they need minimal maintenance and a nice rub down once in a while :) I will be happy when we are down to under 10 hens and one rooster, a dog, a cat, a horse and goat.

We were able to sell one of the goats which was really nice and I hope to see her shown at the county fair! I hope they win the best ribbon with her! I am so excited, I can go see their fair next month! I wish them best of luck!

I will have to post some pictures of my current projects. I have the garden planted but my peas and one of my rows of squash are not doing well. I will have to replant quite soon here in order to still get a crop, albeit a late one. I love fresh garden peas,I will settle for a late planting! (re planting!)

Now I just have to finish getting my homemade trellis' up, my row markers up and my cowgirl scarecrow! More like scaredeer here! They keep nibbling on the apple tree in the backyard near the garden so I know they are eyeing up my corn plants!

This week is our son's first birthday! We are having an army themed party for him! I will post pictures of his cake! It will be so much fun making it! I already have planned out our daughters cake for July. I am so excited! Blessed with a year being a parent to our son and almost another year being a parent to our daughter! I love being a mommy!

Well I have to sign off for now. I am going to take these kids on a walk and then put them for an early short nap. Now that our days are longer one nap just doesn't cut it! I am trying two short naps today. Have to fit in our exercising though!!!

Having a great day in God's country,

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Catching my breath for June!

June 1st: Yesterday was fabulous. The first day of June also marked the first June bug in the house. Yep, that time of year again!

June 2: Today is a nice cool day, with a slight breeze! I have a bunch of parties coming up starting the 10th so I need to get my house in order. I am busy organizing, getting rid of stuff we don't use, and then I can start decorating the house! I still don't feel "moved in" even after we moved here after Thanksgiving. Even though the weather is beautiful I need to buckle down and work inside but also allow plenty of time for outdoor work.

I tell myself it will be worth it to have an organized house once the preserving season really kicks off with the strawberries in a few weeks! We already have rhubarb and asparagus is just starting to kick off too.

So far this year I made a double batch of Violet Jelly and a single batch of Dandelion Jelly. Both recipes used liquid pectin and both recipes turned out! I did notice that (maybe it is just me) liquid pectin sets up nice but it is a more store bought jelly type setting compared to a harder powdered pectin set up. Maybe it was just me. I'm happy with the results either way!

I want to run a jar of violet and dandelion to the neighbors across the road from us. I have met them indirectly but I would like to formally introduce myself and my family to them. I would like to get to know my neighbors!

Our rhubarb plants are still pretty young, I can tell by how they are producing. I was able to make a few fresh things (a pie, and coffee cake) but I need to find another source that I can put some in the freezer to wait until strawberries come into season so I can make strawberry rhubarb jam AND jelly :) I also really would like to make rhubarb jelly but I need to organize my house first for the parties! No excuses on getting side tracked to craft or work in the kitchen :)

We have all the seeds in the garden planted and now this weekend I am planning on putting in my tomato, pepper, and melon plants in the garden. I was going to do that today but after talking to my uncle (who has lived in this area for years) said we could still get a frost until June 7. After about June 7 its guaranteed not to have a killing frost in this area. Considering we moved next door to them I should probably take his advice! Or risk being disappointed if a frost does come. We are getting a cold spell the next few days so I will just wait!

My kids are growing like weeds! Although I'm 17 weeks along now with baby #3 I'm not showing yet. No baby belly yet for me. I noticed yesterday for the first time that my pants are starting to fit a little differently now so I won't be surprised if I start showing in the next few weeks. My guess and gut feeling is that the baby is a girl because I'm carrying high and in. Just like I did with my daughter. I carried our son low and out and goodness I couldn't button my pants by month 3! I had to use the hair tie trick and long shirts!

We find out the gender (hopefully!) on the 28th. Then maybe we can know for sure! Well the munchkins are done eating breakfast so I need to get off the computer, get the kiddos occupied and start cleaning "with them"!

June looks to be like a crazy busy month and I am looking forward to it! I love sharing the outside world with my kids, they love being outside and having cookouts and eating dinner outside. It's wonderful we get to pass that on to our kids!