Monday, August 24, 2015

canning & camping

I meant to write on Thursday, but that was also the day my husband and I were leaving for vacation. Because of our amazing lack of planning, we didn't pack until Thursday morning. Maybe we'll get it together someday...

We went to a Bluegrass music festival in New York this past weekend. There was great music, beautiful weather and new friends made. I'll just pick out a few memories to share:

1. Our camping neighbors gave us banana bread every morning.
2. I got a clawhammer banjo lesson from another neighbor.
3. We heard The Bluegrass Brothers and The Darrell Webb Band (among other great bands.)
4. I taught myself how to crochet the Love Knot (also known as "Solomon's Knot") and made a cowl.
5. I got [a little] sunburned. (Now I don't look like I've been hibernating all Summer.)

I am still amazed at how fast people can play [fiddle/banjo/mandolin/guitar]! I have a lot of practicing to do...

Last Wednesday, I had an epic canning day. (I really don't like the word because it gets used so much, but in this instance, it is warranted.) We had gotten peaches from our friend Janet and since my husband and I were going to be gone for a long weekend, I needed to can them. Our second sowing of green beans was coming on and so there were a lot of those that needed canned also. I canned 24 pints of peaches and 12 pints of beans! That is my canning PR right there! I was so proud of myself. I've only been canning for three or four years and never that much in one day!


Our tomatoes are ripening and now it's time to can tomato soup. That's right, soup. Campbell's has nothing on me. It's homemade, all the way. (You'll just have to wait if you want that recipe.)

Next week, I start school. Summer done R-U-N-N-O-F-T. Who is ready for school to start??! <3

Thursday, August 13, 2015

As Summer rolls along

As Summer rolls along, so does the canning. I've canned green and wax beans and bread and butter pickles. With cukes still leftover, I decided to make dill chips. Last time I made dill pickles, they were disappointingly soggy. Who wants a mushy pickle? I picked up a jar of "Pickle Crisp" by Ball. I have my fingers crossed hoping that this is the ticket.
This is what my morning looked like:


I love canning. I love canning the things that my husband and I have in our garden. It's very rewarding to be able to save these warm weather fruits and vegetables for Winter. I am so blessed with what we have, however little it is in comparison to others. Everything I have is a blessing. Not everyone has a garden. Not everyone has a house. Not everyone has a kitchen (however hokey and outdated it is). This is our kitchen and I am so happy to have it.
What are you happy to have? <3

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

[the end of] Summer Bag

I finally finished what I wanted to be my "Summer Bag." It's still Summer, so I guess it's fine. It'll be my Autumn bag, too. The colors are Autumnal, aren't they?

I made the strap too long (twice), but got the right length now. There isn't a closure for the top of the bag, the crocheted part just makes a flap. I used it for the first time yesterday when I went grocery; still needs some getting used to. I haven't lined it (yet). I like having a few pockets inside, so my phone and chap-stick aren't lost in the bottom...

I bought the hardware at Joann Fabrics: two D-rings and two swivel lobster claw clips. Even though I had a leather sewing needle for my machine, it was pretty difficult to sew the leather to the strap.
I brought it in to work to show to my coworkers and my friend said, "And no one else has one like it!"
I may do a bit of tweaking to it, but this is it for now.
Onto the next project! Anyone working on Christmas gifts yet? Yeah, me neither. <3

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

a new skill

The first Wednesday of every month, a group of ladies meet at our church to sew and tie comforters. These comforters are sent overseas to those in need via Mennonite Central Committee ( Several months ago, I started piecing together a quilt top. The only times I would work on the quilt top were at our sewing circle, so it was taking a while to get it done. I decided to bring the quilt top home and finish it for this month's meeting. Yesterday, I finally finished it! I brought it to our sewing group this morning, but because we had other quilt tops ready to tie and quilt, the top I made will wait until next month. It is made up of red and tan triangles and forms a chevron pattern. I love how it turned out!

This morning at our sewing circle, I learned how to hand quilt! It was a bit awkward to do. My stitches weren't as close together as they ought to have been, but it's a start. 

A close up of the border, where I was working and trying to stay on the lines.

 The quilt a few of us were quilting.
A little blurry because it's an action shot: Colleen quilting!
This was another project being worked on, tying a comforter.

Now I can finally add "Hand Quilting" to my resume. Have you learned a new skill this Summer? <3

Saturday, August 1, 2015

early Friday morning

   Thursday afternoon proved to be the perfect time to pick blueberries. I had worked a morning shift at the thrift store and the sun was shining. I looked back on our records from last year to see how many quarts I would pick. I froze nine quarts of blueberries and still had three left in our freezer. (We really like blueberry pancakes...) I decided to pick three quarts and picked at a patch near our church, less than ten minutes away from our house.
   After dinner was eaten and dishes cleaned, I began sorting and cleaning the ripe berries. I had remembered a recipe a friend posted on facebook for Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake and kept two cups of blueberries aside. My plan was to surprise my husband with this breakfast cake for, you guessed it, breakfast the next day. I told him, "There's a cake I want to make and it calls for two cups of fresh berries." "Oh, that sounds good!" he replied. Little did I know that my plan would be foiled due to the fact that when I wrote down the recipe of said cake, it was still on the kitchen table. "Breakfast cake? You are not making this tomorrow." Friday mornings are Farmers' Market mornings. All the greens we bring in and sell are picked fresh (plus, we don't have the 'frige space.) We were also picking beets for the first time this season. I'm not a quick mover in the morning either, so my breakfast cake surprise was not looking good... "You'll have to get up at 5:30 if you want to do all that." "I was planning on getting up early!" I replied. "Well, maybe 6:00 would work, " my husband finally said.
    I took a stick of butter out of the 'frige, programmed the coffeemaker for 5:15, set my alarm for 5:30 am and went to bed.
   As per usual, I groaned as I rolled over when I heard my alarm chirp and 5:30. Snooze... (times three) and I was up.
   I mixed up the cake, put it in the oven and trucked it up to our garden to harvest beets. I had all my beets picked, bunched and washed before my husband came in from the barn. He and I picked and bunched green curly kale, rainbow swiss chard and then he harvested lettuce.
   The cake was so light and delicious! It is from Prego & Mommy Chat on facebook. (And no, I am not pregnant.) It is a keeper recipe, if you enjoy sweet, tender, blueberry goodness. Give it a look.

After our breakfast cake and coffee, I drove off to the Farmers' Market. It was a beautiful morning and many people stopped by our table. I am so thankful for all the people that came and visited with me.

It's so important to know where your food comes from. If you aren't able to have a garden, visiting your farmers' market is a great way to support local farms.
Earlier this week, when I nestled into bed, I had forgotten to put on some hand lotion. My hands have gotten scratchy and coarse from weeding. "Oh nuts! I was going to put something on my hands because they're cracking." My husband said, "Well, that's what happens when you're a farmer." It's official, I guess. I am a farmer. <3