A New Week

Glad this weekend is over.

Hubby and son are still working on the roof. During the tear off of the shingles Hubby determined that the last roof job wasn’t done right. After the tear off he saw the result…lots of rotted wood and rafters. That has meant lots of unexpected repair which also means lots of unexpected money. Also unexpected was the rain we got while they were working. Thankfully there were no leaks into the house, but we did have some in the garage and had part of the ceiling fall. After taking a week off of work to do this, hubby is only half done with roof repairs and is back to work this week. So the rest of the repairs will be done when he gets home from work. It is going to take him a while to finish, but it will get done.

I’ve been doing what I can to help outside, but my health gets in the way. So I have been trying my best to make sure they are fed well, hydrated well, and rested well. Yesterday while making breakfast we found that our refrigerator stopped working. Another unexpected expense. Well, we lived without a working stove for quite a while before we could afford a new one, we’ll live without a working fridge also until we can afford a new one. Thankfully the weather is getting colder and we have two deep freezers to keep us in ice.

I did clean and vacuum the fridge well, even cleaned under it to see if it would help. It did not. If we were more knowledgeable about fixing things like this we could probably figure it out and get it working again. Since we aren’t, we’ll just muddle through and do what we can.

I cleaned out the fridge and freezer and moved what I could to the deep freezers. I moved what needed to be cold up into the freezer area because it is smaller and will be easier to keep cold. We have jugs of frozen water in our deep freezers to take up space so they’ll run more efficiently, and we’ll rotate those into the fridge to keep things cold. It will be like a big cooler. Once the weather is colder, we’ll be able to use the garage to keep things cold as well.

And while cleaning the fridge, I pulled the chicken parts out that I had been saving in the freezer to make stock. I ended up canning eleven pints of chicken stock and three pints of chicken. I still have pork and beef bones to make stock from, but I’ll wait on that.

Step by step, right? We’ll get through this, it will just take time. God has been very good to us and even when things are hard He never lets us go through it alone. My faith is in Him and I trust Him to bring us through what ever comes our way…to His glory. His mercies are new every morning…

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Canning Corn Using A Drill

wpid-20150823_212640.jpgQuite honestly, I felt it was easier to just buy frozen corn than spending all that time cutting corn off the cob to can it.  After buying some corn that we planned on canning, hubby wanted to try using the drill to cut the kernels off.  He got the idea from a friend who had shared a video she did when she used her drill to do 400 ears of corn.  She bought the special made bit she used, but hubby was sure he could make one.  Most of what we found only included sales information on a drill bit and not DIY information.  After watching a few videos and doing some searching on the internet, hubby figured we would need a 4-inch lag bolt and a big washer.  So off to the hardware store he and our son went.  He came back with a 4-inch stainless steel lag bolt and a fender wpid-20150823_212544.jpgwasher.  Our son cut the head off the bolt with a hack saw, then used the grinder wheel to take off the sharp edges.  That chucked right into hubby’s drill.   He slipped the fender washer on and was ready to go.  He drilled into the end of the corn, spun it through the corn cutter…and just like that it was done.  It took longer for us shuck the corn than for hubby to cut the corn off.  How cool is that??  Now you may decide you want to weld the washer to the bolt, but that is up to you.  Hubby says he isn’t going to bother.

wpid-20150824_112733.jpgIn a short amount of time, we went through 104 ears of corn and got it ready to can.  Which I’m in the process of doing.  I have 20 pints in the canner right now, and 18 waiting to go in.  I’m using the instructions in the Ball Blue Book for raw pack.

Hope you find this helpful.  Here is a short video, “highly professional” video we did showing hubby cutting the corn off the cob with the drill:

Harvesting and Canning

2015Aug13RelishI am elbow deep in harvesting and preserving.  Doesn’t leave a lot of time for blogging.  Beans are almost finished, cucumbers are at their peak, and tomatoes are just starting.  Busy, busy busy.  I have carrots and green beans canned, and some in the freezer, I have four pounds of onions chopped and frozen…with much more to go.  Today I canned sweet pickle relish.  Tomorrow I’ll be doing pickled beets.  I also have a pork loin that needs to get canned.  But that is in the freezer right now and can wait until the harvest slows a bit.  Lettuce has bolted and I pulled most of it out.  I left a couple to go to seed.  I really should have done some staggered planting so we could always have a harvest of lettuce.  Now that the onions are almost done I’m planning to fill that area with a fall planting of spinach.

It is also homeschool planning season.  I need to decide what we are going to use this year, get it ordered and get the year planned out.  Eleventh grade…I can hardly believe that we are nearing the end.

And lastly, this is my birthday and our wedding anniversary season.  So we want to try and plan something big this year, maybe a short trip somewhere for our anniversary.  Usually for my birthday we go to the local art fair, but it didn’t work out this year.  There are a couple other art fairs coming up that we can check out, so all is not lost there.  But quite honestly, right now everything “fun” just seems like work and I really just want to go somewhere to do nothing and relax.  Maybe just sleep.  I just don’t have the energy for much more.

How are things where you are?  Are you doing any harvesting or preserving?  If you have a garden, do you do any fall planting?  Are you children back to school, or will they be going back to school soon?

I’m off to get some dishes done and get the chicken cut up for dinner.  Hubby is grilling it tonight, and fresh corn and fresh green beans to go along with it.  Yum!  Grace and peace!

Been Busy…Scattered Update

It’s been a while since I’ve updated, we’ve been pretty busy.  On top of that I don’t sleep well so I’m also exhausted.  Between the two I am almost overwhelmed.  But still pressing onward.  Here’s a quick rambling update:

2015July28beans

Kentucky Wonder Wax Beans

The green beans are in full production and I’ll be getting ready to can some tomorrow.  This is the first year of using raised bed and I think next year that the spacing for the pole beans should be farther apart.  The Provider Bush are doing great this year, but hubby says that the White Half Runners we have growing taste much better.  The Kentucky Wonder Wax beans are just starting to turn yellow.  The McCaslan Pole beans are just starting to produce.  I also bought 10 lbs. of blueberries and 20 lbs. of organic carrots over the weekend and I’ll be canning those as well (the carrots I planted didn’t come up at all.)  All the tomato plants are flowering and have green tomatoes so it shouldn’t be long before we start seeing them start turning red.  The volunteers that came up from last year turned out to be mostly Romas, but a few are Marglobe.  I’ll be saving the seeds from the nicest ones.  We actually have cucumbers this year! Last year we didn’t get one flower, this year we have lots and lots of flowers, and I should be harvesting the first cucumber this week. The peas are almost done, I’ll be planting a fall crop of here soon.  Didn’t get enough to can or freeze since hubby and son ate most of them.  Note for next year, plant twice as many.  Hubby and son finished the third raised bed, we filled it enough to plant a fall crop crop of broccoli.   After lots and lots of rain that flooded the bed, the seedling have poked through so I hope they make it.  The white onion tops have fell and are starting to brown, so I’ll be harvesting those here shortly, but they are really small.  Onions usually do well, I’m wondering if all the rain stunted them.  The yellow and red onions are still going so hopefully they will be bigger. Speaking of rain, we haven’t had any for over a week now. It actually seems weird that it isn’t raining almost every day. And for the first time this year I had to water the garden (not counting when I planted seeds.)  To top it off, this morning I knocked my plastic watering can down and it cracked when it hit the ground.  Glad I have a spare.

I can’t believe that July is almost over.  Public school with be starting in another week and I need to start planning for our upcoming homeschool year…11th grade.  Seems like it was just yesterday when we were ordering kindergarten materials and starting out on our homeschool journey.  Now we’re not only planning for the last two years of high school but making college plans as well.

I guess that’s it for now.  I’ve got laundry to finish and housework to catch up on.  Since my dryer is just barely running I’m glad to have rain-free days to hang laundry outside.   I’m glad dinner tonight is simple…blueberry pancakes and sausage.

Hope you are doing well!  Grace and peace…

Romans 8:38-39 – For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It’s Officially Cold…and…

…I officially have a cold.  I’ve been down for a few days, I felt awful but I’m starting to feel better.  One of the worst parts for me about getting sick is that the chores tend to get backed up.  Laundry, dishes, all sorts of things that I’m behind on.  So today is a catch up day for me now that I am feeling somewhat better.

winter2The weather hasn’t been bad, but for me it is an adjustment to get used to the colder weather.  The heater is now going all the time and to keep the bills from going off the charts I keep the thermostat set at 66°F or about 19ºC (much lower at night).  It isn’t cold, but it isn’t warm either.  Yes, I’m a whimp.  It takes a little time to get back into the routine of socks, slippers and layers of clothes.  I have a feeling that our winter here in Indiana is going to be very similar to the cold, snowy winter we had last year.

Today’s agenda is mainly catching up on all the chores that have back up for the last several days.  Pretty bad when it seems every dish is dirty.  If I can manage to make progress, I may even try to make some homemade yogurt.  I love yogurt so having to be dairy free is a bummer.  But hubby and son love yogurt so I still make it for them.  Once in a while I’ll splurge and get a container of non-dairy yogurt.  But is really isn’t the same.  *sigh*  I also still have quite a few apples left.  I’m hoping to make a pie, and then maybe make more applesauce with the rest.  I used the Sauce Master to make the applesauce this year and my son gave the applesauce a big thumbs down.  He says the consistency is way too smooth and he won’t eat it.  This coming from the least picky eating child ever.  So I may make a small batch of chunky applesauce just for him.  Not sure if I will try it again next year with a larger screen or not.  We’ll see.  My last big projects that have yet to be done are getting our air conditioners out and cleaning out the garage so hubby can start parking the car in there.  I had hoped to get them done over the weekend, but with me not feeling well and hubby up to his ears in home projects (like the gutter in the front of the house that fell after a really hard rain) they weren’t a priority.  The garage has been his work space so I’ll have to wait until his other projects are done before we can reclaim the garage for the car.

Dinner tonight is going to be chicken, rice and broccoli.  My menu got a little rearranged since we opted for easy, non-menu meals while I was sick.  So the nice Sunday chicken dinner from yesterday is replacing the chicken leftovers that were scheduled for tonight.  If you plan a menu of meals for your family, how do you handle unexpected circumstances that upend your plans?  Do you have spare or alternate meals planned just in case?  Do you just rearrange your menu as you go?  I’d love to hear how you do it.

Time to reboot the dryer with load number three.  Hope your day is blessed.  Grace and peace….

Canning Apples

20141027_104820Almost two bushels of apples (Cortland and Jonamac), a few for apple pie filling and the rest will soon be apple sauce.  Some of the biggest, prettiest local apples I’ve ever seen. Yesterday I canned seven quarts of apple pie filling, and after checking them this morning, all the jars have sealed.  (Wheeee!) I just need to wash them and put them away now.  I used the recipe from Ball with a couple changes.

20141028_081817My changes were that I used brown sugar instead of regular sugar, and I don’t use Sure-Jell.  I don’t use it when making an apple pie, so I didn’t want to put it in when I canned apple pie filling.  If I could make it without sugar, I would do that too.  I’m still looking for a good recipe for that.  In the mean time, I’ll use the one I have.

Today will be spent cutting and cooking the apple sauce, and I’ll probably be canning that tomorrow.  Yes, I did not say peeling.  I do leave the skins on when I make apple sauce.  Just get the cores out.  After they are cooked and soft, you can use a blender, food processor, or strainer.  If you peel the apples you can even use a potato masher.  Makes a great chunky apple sauce.  I’ll be using my immersion blender.  And I don’t add any any sugar, I don’t think a good homemade applesauce needs it.  If you are canning apples, what are the different ways you are canning them?