canning

Summer came and went!!  How does that happen so quickly?  Does time seem to be speeding up for everyone??

I think time goes quickly when you are busy!  And let me tell you, we were BUSY this summer!  Between the garden, everyone working, the animals, getting wood supply in for the winter… time just went by!!

I’ve had people ask me how to can things, or how do I process certain veggies etc.  Well people, let me tell you, I keep things super easy and uncomplicated!  In no way would I have the time, or energy, to process things like tomatoes in many different ways… delicious or not!  I do sauce… plain old sauce.  No muss no fuss, no spices, no fanfare, just sauce.

Well, you may ask, what sort of tomatoes are best for sauce?  Frankly, I don’t care!  Well, I do, but I don’t have time to obsess over tomato varieties!  We did grow our own Roma’s this year, which were amaaaaazinnnngggg!

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and I do prefer them for sauce, maybe because they are sauce tomatoes… ha!  But, I digress, I don’t have time to worry about it!  We get a lot of tomatoes in payment for work we do on a local farm.  If those rows are going to get plowed under I get a call, “come pick tomatoes”.  We bring the truck and we pick, and pick, and pick… you get the picture.  Doesn’t matter what variety they are, we don’t care!

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I adore, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, my husband.  For many reasons 🙂 one of which being he had the foresight, many years back, to get me a juicer attachment for my Kitchenaid.

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What a game changer that baby is when you are processing massive amounts of tomatoes!!  It takes the skin and seeds out lickety split!

I bring the tomatoes up to a boil, dump into a strainer, then start juicing baby!

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I tend to run everything through twice to get as much pulp as possible!  Then the juice/pulp all goes into a big pot that I bring up to almost a boil and I start processing!  Super easy, fill hot jars with hot sauce, add 1 tsp canning salt, wipe rims, cap, process at 10 lbs of pressure for 15 min.  Done!  We will do upwards of 30 Quarts a day.

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Use as you like, adding spices for sauce, add plain to soups etc!  Soooooo delish!

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Plus they are super pretty just sitting on a shelf!

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Ashes to Ashes….

We had my dad’s memorial this weekend.  It was great to be with family and hear what people had to say.

My dad wanted his ashes put in the swimming hole where he and my mom used to go when they were young teens.  The creek used to be at the end of a short road, surrounded by nothing but woods.  There used to be a beach area down where the water pooled to create the swimming hole.  It’s all overgrown now, and the once dead end is now a quiet country road, with little traffic or congestion.

We piled into our vehicular devices, most of us cramming into my sisters 15 passenger van.  We wise-cracked our way into the neighboring state where my parents grew up.  I’m not sure any of us knew what to expect or quite what to do.

My only brother took the reigns and spoke a few words and let dad go.

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Mom looked on and wept.  On the way back to the car she hugged me, smiled and said “We were so young!”  Such a beautiful peaceful spot.  Perfect for my dad, who sought out the woods and silence to still his active mind.

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When family comes to visit we like to make a tour of all the places my parents grew up.  This trip focused on my dad.  We went to the old farm house where he, and his six siblings, grew up.  There is now a fence around it, so I couldn’t get a good look at this old Victorian farmhouse that once sat in the middle of the over 300 acres.

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Of course, being the tenacious person that I am, I knocked on the gate to no avail.  Then, having technology at my fingertips, I called the homeowner.  He was rather disgruntled that I deemed it necessary to disturb his afternoon routine and promptly dismissed me saying he wouldn’t open the gate until later in the evening.  Feeling rather miffed, I walked away, not without shouting something about never letting my pets stay at his establishment.  (it was a kennel)

The next stop on our trek homeward was to show us where my dads siblings built their houses on the property.  Then came the spot where my dad built his first house.  His mother had sold him about 35 acres, on which he built a home for his wife and three small children. He had grand plans to open a campground on his newly established estate.

The driveway is quite long and it was hard to get good pictures of the house so my brother, being rather tenacious himself, said “I’m going to pull up the driveway.”  A rather perplexed homeowner came around from the back of the house, probably wondering if we were some kind of crazy cult in our grey 15 passenger van, full of people, followed by a nine passenger SUV, also full of people.  She greeted us with trepidation.  I smiled and cheerfully stretched out my hand, hoping to convey that we weren’t a bunch of lunatics who had randomly pulled up her driveway… oh wait… weren’t we?!  I explained why we were in the area, that my dad had built her lovely home and did she mind if we took a picture.  She smiled, and said “Sure, but don’t mind the chicken poop.” (my kind of place!)

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Then, this wonderful, kind woman, invited us to come inside!!!  My mom wasn’t sure she wanted to, as she was afraid the interior would have been altered in some way.  My siblings and I eagerly said “Yes!”  Much to my mom’s delight, the inside had not changed!  It was beautiful.  I don’t remember living there, but my older sister took me into a room and said “This was your room!  Your crib was right here and I used to sit on the floor next to you…”

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What a special gift we received!

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We rounded out the trip with a late lunch, because… it IS all about the food!

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So glad to have had this time with my family.

 

 

 

 

 

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life continues

Life is always happening, no matter what we do to try to stop it.

Recently our youngest needed an emergency trip to our trusty Children’s Hospital.  At our local ER they wanted to supply our four year old with some morphine, because she was clearly conveying pain.  Pain?  No sir, she was clearly conveying apprehension at the fact that a strange man in a white coat was in her face asking her questions he expected her to answer and he was poking at her tender belly.  He was met with a stoic stare and the moist eyes of a terrified toddler.  This was interpreted as severe pain that needed some morphine.

Nah, we just turned the T.V. on.  Problem solved.  Seriously, the banal cartoons,that are provided for children’s entertainment, should be labeled and marketed as a controlled substance.  Instant zombie.  Who needs meds?

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Mourning…

My dad passed away.

There are many people who have had to deal with losing a parent.  I knew this day would come sooner or later, I just didn’t think it was going to be …sooner.

I don’t think about it, I don’t try to “process” or go through “a process”, I just try to be.  How can I be anything else?  My dad is gone.  My world, and my children’s world, is forever changed.  I’m not sure, exactly, what “process” it is that everyone seems to mention when you lose someone.  You know, you’ve heard it at one point or another… “you just have to go through the Process… You have to Mourn.. you have to…”  What?  What is it that we Have to do??  Just be, we can only just .. Be.

I feel like it’s an understatement to say, “I lost my dad”.  I feel like that doesn’t really cover it.  I feel like I need to try to explain to people what that actually means, to me.  But, I am speechless.  I have no words… I keep trying to have words.  Then I just have to .. Be.

I am eternally grateful for the siblings that God has given me.  We can relate, we get it.  We have All lost something, together.  We can text or call or just stop in and know that the other person truly gets it, they understand.  They understand that our dad was different.  He wasn’t like other dads.  He was special.  He was the most present, active, alive, loving person I’ve ever known.  He made himself available to everyone he came in contact with, therefore forging lifetime attachments with so many people I can’t even count!

My dad taught me how to love.  He taught me that love is an action, it’s a verb.  That you choose to love.  He chose to love us with an unconditional all encompassing passion.  He loved well.

Love you Dad.

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Year in review…

What a year!
It started with our third grandchild, and first grandson, making a grand entrance ten days after his due date!

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He is now just shy of turning one year old!  He is such a little man!  My dad refers to him as “the kid who doesn’t know how old he is and his mother won’t tell him” hehe.  I love watching his little brain absorb everything around him! He’s a sweetie!

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In the early spring we took over a small landscaping business and officially became self employed!

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We have become a multifaceted family enterprise, adding lawn care and various odd jobs to our family farm.

Late summer saw grandbebe number four arrive into our ever expanding crazy family!

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Precious little Vivian.  This makes three girls for my eldest son, who had to suffer through five sisters before he finally got a brother….when he was 13!

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But come on now! Is there anything cuter???!?

Six weeks after baby V was born we once again welcomed another grandbebe! Little Owen.

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What a chunker!  He is adored by everyone.

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There’s little Viv and her beasty cousin!

Summer brought many outings, one of which our eldest took his little family and his three littlest sisters (with a bigger younger sister to help!) To the zoo!

I love seeing these random moments!

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My oldest with my youngest, and his oldest!

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My oldest and youngest.

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My youngest with her oldest niece (they are seven months apart).

Summer also brought lots of activity to the farm….piglets, chicks, turkeys, bunnies and bears oh my!  Well, not bears!
Tons of building projects and all manners of business for the kids!  I adore seeing them utilize what we have on hand to build and create!

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The end of fall brought our beloved All Saints party!  There was lots of creativity going on!

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Thanksgiving and Advent / Christmas rounded out the year.

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Christmas for 12 children, 2 parents, 3 spouses and 5 grandchildren!  I didn’t take any pictures :-/
There is a line in the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” that reminds me that ” sometimes the camera gets in the way of the moment ”

I was too busy enjoying watching each child open their treasures of precious hand made and second hand gifts, chosen and made with love.

This is a very brief year end review of our busy life.  I am hoping to blog more in the coming year!

Wishing you all a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

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Break

We took a random break the other day.  My husband came home and said “beautiful day let’s take a walk”.  Of course I was thinking he meant just the two of us.  You know, a romantic stroll through the country side, hand in hand….alone.

Ha! We did stroll hand in hand, but we certainly were not alone!

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The “climb” tuckered out some of the young’uns.

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On the way back, hubs couldn’t help joining in the fun.

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Beautiful day and a great little break.

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Farm cat

We have several cats, in various stages of growth, on our farm.  There always seems to be one that becomes a favorite.

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Seriously.

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