Just Make a Choice

This morning was a busy one for us, or me mostly. Of course, most days are pretty busy for a stay-at-home-mom of 4 kids with one on the way.

Anyway, I was at the grocery store in the checkout line. This was my last errand for the morning, and I was to the point where the thought of being at home was a very nice feeling. The lady at the checkout asked “how are you today?” (she’s the lady I go to just about every single time I’m in this store).

I didn’t know what to say. I was tired, stressed, and thinking about the list that is 9 miles long waiting for me to do, at the top being: clean the kitchen where pots have been accumulating for 2 days and laundry.

I looked at her and smiled. Then I said “I could complain, but not today.”

You see, I’m really trying to be much more of a positive person when I get really tired & stressed.

She smiled and said “sometimes it feels better to vent”. So, my response was “well, I am a little bummed that it’s rainy and the leaves aren’t crunchy today to go play in.”

She laughed.

I’m not quite sure why this was so important for me to blog about, but it seemed to be a turning point for the day.

Putting ‘the list’ aside, and all the stress. I had a great morning!

I finished the bobble blanket I’ve been working on since late July of this summer. It’s the one that my grandmother passed along to me, and I love how it turned out. I am usually a very colorful, random matching of things kind of crocheter for blankets that are done with squares, but the single color of this one works wonders.

My photo isn’t so great, super overcast-y and drizzly day here so not really good light. Maybe once the sun shines again I can take it outside and get some good ones.

I also scored BIG at the farmer’s market (Willey’s in Townsend) this morning. They had local cauliflower that was huge and simply beautiful, 2 crowns for $6. Must have weighed at least 2 pounds each. The real reason I went was to get my supply of apple seconds:

50 pound bushel for $10. Last year I got about 16 quarts of applesauce and 8 pints of apple butter out of it (as well as eating just a few), and we just ran out of applesauce last month. I’m thinking of not making the apple butter this year though, no one here liked it. Maybe some apple pie filling is in order. Some smaller portions of applesauce would be a good idea too since we’ll have a little one in need before this time next year. I have been thinking about getting another bushel, but I’ll save the final call on that one for after this one has been taken care of.

My house smells so nice with the addition of this bushel of apples.

Did I mention that the gentleman who helped me take it to the car carried it on his shoulder like it was a beach towel? You should have seen me carrying it up the 6 steps to get it into my house, it was probably quite hilarious to any onlookers….

Besides, Thursdays in the fall can’t be all that bad, Project Runway is on tonight!

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October’s Welcome Here

There are quite a lot of things that I love about October. I do live in Delaware so the colors can definitely be enough for me to be in heaven most days!

The 10 degree outside temperature drop is definitely a bonus this year with all the heat we had this summer!

October, for our family, always starts with Conference Weekend. The thought of being able to sit on my couch in yoga pants, a fire blazing, and plenty of snacks and watch church on TV most of the weekend is simply glorious! This years Conference was no different than all the others we’ve watched, there was a message for each of us that we needed to hear without even realizing it. There were moments of happy tears, and moment of reflective tears for me (always more tears when there’s a bun in the oven).

Saturday morning before Conference, I took the kids over to my oldest son’s elementary school for their Fall Festival. This is something that the school has been pushing pretty much since the school year started. I have to say, I was rather disappointed. I felt like it was a drive-by yard sale, you know the one that you see fliers for everywhere and even see in the paper then you get there and it isn’t even worth getting out of the car… yea it was a lot like that. They did have a moon bounce, so the kids could’ve cared less about everything else (or the lack there of).

I did get a few good pictures tough.

Dancing, she would NOT go on the moon bounce.

This weekend I also got lots done in the kitchen, which felt so great! I feel like I got my umpf back, finally!! I baked 6 loaves of pumpkin swirl bread, ohh the house smelled so good. Of course, I gave away 5 of them (I don’t need to gain that much weight before the holidays…). And I canned about 5 pounds of dried beans. I know, dried beans store for-e-ver, but I find I hardly ever ever use them when they’re dried. If I’m making a huge batch of something then I might use a pound here or there, but I like to can them (it’s super easy) and I use them up that way for sure. I found the ‘recipe,’ or instructions really, that I use online at a neat site called The Recipe Link, they have a whole section on canning & preserving. It’s got tons and tons of stuff! I’m planning to do another batch of beans this week and hopefully go get my mass of apples to do applesauce too.

Clearly I need to work on taking photos indoors!

For some reason I woke up pretty early both days last weekend. So, Saturday became baking day and Sunday morning I started quilting the Pink n Green Quilt I’m working on for my Mom.

I was originally going to do straight-line quilting for two reasons: 1- it’s much faster than any other type I do, and 2- I thought it would look really nice to echo the white squares that the corners of the snowball blocks made. Didn’t like it. So, I’m going to stipple it, avoiding the white square all-together since only some of them were trimmed so there is 6 layers of fabric in their intersections (yikes).

I quite like how it looks, and of course my photos are horrible because my lighting in the basement is lousy (to put it nicely). I do have lights that focus on my sewing area, but that’s all and it’s just no good for photos.

(This one shows the colors more true)

(And this one shows the quilting better)

Either way, it felt good to get started on quilting this monster. Honestly, I was avoiding it for a few weeks… I know, I know, I need to get cracking on holiday gifts. The thought of quilting another king just wasn’t appealing… can you blame me?

My Monday Accomplishment

On Sunday the kids and I decided it was time to pick our green beans.

Between the hot hot summer we had, all the severe thunderstorms, and that hurricane Irene back to back our little gardens didn’t do so great this year. Our pepper plant bit the dust, our tomatoes got broken and knocked over, and our sugar snap peas didn’t even make it through the heat, poor things shriveled up in the heat.

However, we were thankful to pick our beans. I was able to get them canned on Monday. Please remind me to do beans on the weekend next time so I can get the big kids to help with the snapping, nothing like snapping peas for over an hour.

I’ve decided that you definitely know you’re a blogger when you find yourself taking pictures like these:

9 Pints!

In case you’re wondering, I do prefer the wide mouth jars to the regular. They are much easier to pack and easier to remove bubbles & measure head space. On another note, I used Kosher salt this go round. Can’t wait to see if there’s a difference.

This is exactly why I love gardening! I get to preserve my own food for my family. 

And yes, this was an accomplishment for this week. Been feeling pretty under the weather lately, and praying that it ends with this trimester!

Can Some Chicken, It’s Worth It

Most people that can things make their own jams and jellies. I find the most joy in making jams and jellies, they are always so yummy, and my kids can help make them.

However…

Today I will share with you how I can chicken. The taste of home-canned chicken, I have found, cannot be matched. I wait until I can get boneless skinless chicken breasts for less than $1.79 per pound, then I buy increments of 14 pounds because about 1 pound of chicken fits into one pint-sized jar, and my canner can hold 14 pints.

I have a copy of this book:

Photo from Amazon. Click Here to go to website.

If you are seriously into canning, this book it a go-to resource for all things canning. For real. 

They have a recipe/guideline for canning Chicken, and all other types of poultry. I follow this pretty much to the T. The only thing I do differently is use room temperature broth instead of boiling. I figure that if the entire jar, contents, and canner are room temperature, then I should be good to go.

The Ball company also publishes small paperback books called The Blue Book. There have been many many versions of these printed over the years, and I recommend follow the most recent guidelines for canning since there is still research being done on this. For example, my Grandmother has Ball Blue Books from the over 30 years ago, and back then they home canned pureed pumpkin. It has since been found to not store well in these conditions, and almost breeds botulism=BAD!!

On a side note, I usually use Ball jars. I have had some for over 8 years, and a lot of mine were given to me or bought second-hand. In other words, if you are canning correctly, they will last a long long time. Don’t get me wrong, I have broken jars before, and am sure it will happens again (because it just does sometimes).

Here’s a general run-down of how I roll:

Supplies:

What To Do:

  1. I do a raw-pack method, which basically means everything is not cooked when it’s packed. I think there is a better outcome with this method.
  2. You need to start with clean jars, lids, and bands. I just run them in the dishwasher for a whole cycle. Then open up the dishwasher and let them get to room temperature.
  3. Get your chicken, cutting board & knife, broth, and jars out. I like to just take over the dining room table so I can sit while cutting all this chicken.
  4. Just start cutting chicken into manageable sections and put it in your jars. I pretty much cut the pieces small enough to fit through the funnel. You really want to pack the chicken into the jars. Fill each jar, leaving a generous 1 inch headspace. 
  5. Put a little bit of broth into each jar, fill to barely cover the chicken. Use your clear ruler and push it down the sides of your jars to release any air bubbles. Then add more broth if necessary to get the 1 inch headspace.
  6. Screw on bands using your hands until they feel tight, don’t go crazy and break your jars muscle (wo)man (yea, I’ve done that before…)
  7. Put your jars into your canner. I would read the instructions manual for you canner and follow any guidelines there may be (position, water level, etc). Put lid on canner.
  8. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat, vent steam for 10 minutes, then close vent. Continue heating until you get to the 10 lbs. pressure. Your gauge should gently rock with a hissing noise coming from it, nothing too crazy.
  9. Process the pint jars with the boneless chicken for 75 minutes, yea it really takes that long so grab a movie, book, or project and get going.
  10. When your timer beeps, turn off the heat and let the canner release pressure all by itself. Wait a few minutes after it’s done, and open the lid. At this point I usually wait 20 to 30 minutes or so so the jars are cool enough that I can just pick up the jars with my hands. Let the jars continue to cool, putting them on a kitchen towel and keeping them away from drafts. These jars are glass, and will break with rapid temperature changes. 
  11. Once cooled, rinse the outside of your jars, label (if you don’t inhale it as quickly as we do), and store. You’re done!

If you can, what do you like to can?

What a Great Weekend

Yes, it’s Tuesday, and I’m finally getting my post up about this weekend…

What can I say, I took a day trip yesterday = no time for posting.

I’m not sure if there are many more places worth having a day trip to besides the best, IKEA. Oh yea, I went and only took 2 kids! Does that count for exercise this week?? I’d like to think so.

I guess I’m kinda doing this backwards, cause I’m gonna start with yesterday and move back through the weekend.

I bought lots of awesomeness at IKEA yesterday, I think my most favorite purchase was the fabric I picked up:

Isn’t it just beautiful?! I only know for sure what I’m going to do with one of them, and that’s the tree print. It will make an awesome Rollie Pollie for the boys room, the colors are perfect! Who knows what the other 2 fabrics will become, maybe some totes for summertime, maybe some awesome fabric boxes for storage on our shelves, or maybe…

I also picked up a new bunk-bed for the boys room, the 2 twins were just taking up so much space.

Next on the list to pick up was some more billy bookcases for the living room, and a cabinet for our entertainment stuff, cable box, ps3, wii, a dvd/vhs player, and all the controllers/etc. that go along with them. I ended up getting this (ours only has 2 sections instead of 3):

(Photo from IKEA website. Click here to go to page)

That was it for IKEA, you should’ve seen all this fit into my MPV. Oh my, the man who was working outside just picked up the boxes like they were just a sack of flour. If only he could’ve come home to help me unload.

Sunday was great! The Superbowl was a good one this year. I am glad that the Packers won. What a sore loser the Steelers coach is!! I was a little shocked actually.

Pre-Superbowl, I finished quilting my orange and gray zig-zag quilt. I love LOVE it! I just echo quilted the zig-zag seams, one row of stitching on either side. It is so exciting to see the progress you can make in a quilt in only one afternoon.

Sunday morning brought Church meetings. I really enjoy Fast Sundays, the testimonies that some people share are simply amazing! I love getting the kids dressed up all cute too.

Saturday was a doosie this week. Wes has been sick since Friday, I think he ended up with the flu somehow. Poor guy. He even had to go work on remodeling his parents bathroom, he promised them, so he felt he needed to go even though his pillows in bed were calling. He got all the tiles laid, and it looks great.

The kids and I went off to Sam’s Club where I feel like I spent millions… gees. There’s just so much to buy there, and I’m only even thinking of food. They were having an evalue coupon on their chicken breast, so I bought an extra 2 packs and canned them. I absolutely LOVE home-canned chicken breast, I won’t even touch the store-bought canned chicken anymore. Seriously.

I’ll be posting later this week about how I do my chicken, so easy.

I hope you’re weekend was just as packed-full of fun as ours was!