Monday, September 30, 2013

My Weekly Goals

It's been crazy busy here so I never did my goals last week. Things are slowing down a bit, but I am still canning and dehydrating things. I freaked out when I was in the garden earlier and noticed 5 more zucchini and 2 more butternut squash growing! Not to mention my pepper plants have a ton of flowers on them. I think the warm days and cool nights have them thinking it is spring. I was going to dig these plants up this week, but I may wait now.

On to my goals for this week:

1. Get Matt's ipod fixed. I have an appointment at the Apple store in MA (I live in NH) today at 10:30. I am just hoping it is just a battery issue and not going to cost me a ton. When I bought the ipod a couple of years go, it cost me almost 400.00, so it better not cost me a ton to get this thing fixed.

2. Pack up things for the yard sale and other miscellaneous things and put in storage. I hate doing yard sales, that's the hubby's thing, but I have plenty of things to put in the yard sale. Not to mention, Matt has a ton of things to put in it. He is outgrowing most of his toys. He still loves his Nerf stuff and Legos.

3. Take pictures of homeschooling books and put them up on Ebay. I have a ton of things left over from when I homeschooled both the kids. 4 boxes left of things that I need to try to sell to make some money for Christmas. Not to mention, I need the room that they are taking up.

4. Put bar into kitchen and reorganize my kitchen appliances and things. We bought this little side bar table cabinet thing when we first moved in here to use as a tv stand. It's really nice and solid wood. We just bought a new larger tv so I had to get a new stand to hold it. I hate to give this bar away or put it in storage, so I am going to put it in the kitchen to use as a divider between the eat in nook and the kitchen area. We don't eat in the kitchen and the nook area is now my my canning and pantry area.

5. Head to The Container Store while in MA at the Apple store and get the dvd storage boxes. I have a nice big bookcase in my living room that is made from the pews from a church (I think my great grandfathers church but not sure). Three and a half shelves are full of dvd's. Whenever Matt borrows a dvd to watch in his room, he looses the box. Well the boxes are taking up a ton of space that I need badly to store our books that are now all over the place. I bought a bunch of the cd/dvd paper sleeves to put the dvd's in. I just need some pretty boxes to put the dvd's in to store them on the shelves better.

What are your goals for the week?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Homemade Crock Pot Apple Butter

Ahh, the smells and foods of fall are all I smell and see at my house right now. The other day, I made some apple butter in the crock pot. It smelled sooo good in here while it was cooking.

I sliced, peeled and cored about 2 dozen apples. It was enough to fill up my 7 qt crock pot. I then added some spices:

1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice (I didn't have any so I just used nutmeg instead).
1 c water

Mix the apples and the first three items together really well and add to the crock pot. Then add the water and turn the crock pot on low to cook over night.

When I got up in the morning, not only did my house smell heavenly, but this is what the apples looked like:

Look how much they have cooked down and how lovely and dark the apples look. I then grabbed my handy dandy stick blender and blended up all the apple yumminess smooth.

I then put the lid half on half off of the crock pot to cook the water out and make it much thicker. I never really paid any attention to the time I had it cooking, I just knew when it was ready.

When it was ready, I added it to already prepared 1/2 pint jelly jars. This made 5 half pints and a little bit more that I just added to a small jar and put in the fridge to eat right away.

I love how dark it is! Looks sooo delish, and it is. I processed the 1/2 pints in a water bath for 10 minutes and let it cook over night. Now I have plenty to enjoy for the rest of the year.

Shared with More The Merrier Monday

Friday, September 27, 2013

Homemade Apple Sauce

I love this time of year. Fall is my all time favorite season. I love the crisp morning air and the warm afternoons. I love the colors and the smells and all the food. Last weekend, we went apple picking with the family, so I knew this week would be full of preserving all the apples into yumminess that will last us all year long.

First thing I did was make my homemade apple sauce. I don't do anything fancy to it. I don't add any sugar or cinnamon or anything. Just apples and a little water.

I saw on Pinterest (love this site) that if you fill your sink up with cold water, add 1 cup of vinegar and add your apples, it will make them all sparkly and clean. I decided to try it.

Ya, it did not do what it said it would do. That cloudy film was still on the apples. The picture above the sink one was after they were "cleaned". Thankfully the apples didn't smell or taste like vinegar.

I filled up the other side of my double sink with cold water and added lemon juice to it. As I peeled the apples, I put them in this lemon water to help prevent the apples from turning brown. Honestly, if they turn a little brown, I don't care. It makes the apple sauce a little darker color but doesn't affect the taste.

I peeled and cored my apples using my handy dandy peeler corer thingy. Makes fast easy work of the apples. I filled two large pots about 2/3 full of apples slices and added 4 cups of water to each pot.

Cook the apples until they are smooshy and slightly transparent. Because the apples are sliced so thin, this does not take a long time at all. Don't boil, but let it simmer.

Once the apples are cooked, I used my stick blender (best tool ever!) to make the sauce smooth. You can also use a potato smasher if you don't have a stick blender. The sauce is more lumpy with the potato smasher. I like my sauce smooth.

I continue to cook off the water until it is the thickness that I like. Then it is time to can it up. While the sauce is cooking off the water, I am getting my jars and water bath canner water ready. By the time the water in the canner is ready and the jars are sterilized, the sauce is usually done or pretty close to it.

Fill your jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space, processing 20 minutes for both quarts and pints. Wash the jars once all cooled and then put away or enjoy.

I usually add some sugar and cinnamon to my serving of sauce. Sometimes I don't want anything added. That is why I didn't add anything to the apples while it was cooking.

Shared with More The Merrier Monday

Monday, September 23, 2013

Canning Tomato Sauce

This week, I decided to make room in my freezers and can all my tomatoes. I had a ton of work a head of me. Tomatoes were good producers this year in the garden.

This was most of the frozen tomatoes. I had like 25 quarts, 1 gallon, a grocery shopping bag and a large container full. All this made 24 pints of sauce.

I don't so anything fancy to make the sauce. I cut up all the tomatoes and throw them all in my food mill to get the seeds and skins off the tomatoes. This was of course after I thawed and drained all the liquid out of all these bags and containers.

Then I add the tomatoes to my 2 crock pots and cook on low for about 24 hours with the lid off. Or in my case, with the lid half on half off. Once they are all cooked down, I use my stick blender to mix and finish blending all the tomatoes together. I like a thick sauce, the hubby likes more of a marinara sauce. I add some basil and oregano, but nothing else. I do not add any sugar. I hate sweet sauces with a passion. Not to mention the hubby is diabetic.

I cook it a bit longer while I get the jars and water bath canner ready. I use pints for my sauce. I hate having my pasta smothered in sauce, so it is pointless to can it in a quart jar. I use a tablespoon of lemon juice per pint to add a bit more acidity. Then when the water in the canner is at a rolling boil, I can the jars for 20 minutes. Once done, I take the jars out and get to listen to the musical pings of the lids sealing. Let cool over night then was the jars in warm soapy water and rinse.

Sharing with More Than Merrier Linky Party, Natural Living Monday, Homestead Barn Hop

Dinner Plans 9/23 ~ 9/29

Monday ~ Skillet Sausage & Rice

Tuesday ~ Cottage Pie

Wednesday ~ Spaghetti & Meatballs, Garlic Bread

Thursday ~ Pork Chops, Green Beans, Rice Pilaf

Friday ~ Roast Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Corn

Saturday ~ Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Braid

Sunday ~ Chicken Noodle Soup

Linked to Meal Plan Monday at

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Apple Picking Time

Yesterday my hubby and Matt planned on going apple picking at Apple Crest farm, which is maybe 5 minutes from our house. I invited my mom, mostly because we haven't seen much of her since I stopped working. I also called my sister to see if her and her clan wanted to join us. They already had plans to go, so we all met up at my house. We also banged into my cousin there too. I haven't seen her since her mom, my aunt, passed away.

It was a beautiful day. Not hot, overcast at times, and a nice cool breeze. Lots of people, more than usual because it is going to rain today. Long lines to wait in, but most moved rather quickly. Plus we got their early enough to not wait in the monster lines that were there when we were leaving.

We started the day by getting food. Nothing better than their fresh corn on the cob cooked on the grill as well as some fresh apple cider. I didn't get either though. LOL. We sat near the flower cutting garden to eat. I took advantage of only eating a hot dog to get my baby time in and held my nephew. Then it was time to pick our apples.

The hubby and I got a bushel of apples. (We already had a peck at home) Half Cortland and half Macintosh. I like to use the Macs to make my applesauce and apple butter. Cortland are used for apple pies and crisp. I am going to try drying some apples as well.

The kids had fun picking the apples and then entertained themselves while waiting for the tractor to show up to take us back through the orchard to the main farm area. Mom almost lost all her apples on the tractor ride on the way back when her bag tipped over. She had a kid on her lap so she couldn't get them fast enough, but the other people sharing our cart with us helped us get her apples before they fell off.

Apples then went into our cars and my sister and I took off to pick raspberries without any of the kids. It was a nice little break. Matt had been a grumpy teenager for most of the day and it was making me more tired than anything.

Steve did take the kids to the little animal petting area though. This year we had to pay 1.00 per kid to get into the area and all the animals were in their own little pen. All the other years, we were able to be right in with the animals. Oh well.

This picture was from when we went in 2010. Notice the butterfly that way flying past my camera? I didn't see it till I put the picture on my computer.

Homemade ice cream and some bluegrass music was next on the menu for us. My sister and I took off into the market to see what was there. Because I live so close to this farm, I go here a lot to get things I did not grow in my own garden and for the ice cream too. You get a ton for very little money.

I checked out the many different types of squashes and pumpkins that they grow and sell there. So many kinds and some are really funny looking.

Now I have a ton of apples to clean, preserve and eat. It's going to be a busy week to put up most of these apples. I will be back next month when dad comes for a visit. He wants to go apple picking then as well.

It was a fun day but it wore me out. I spent the rest of the evening canning the rest of my tomato sauce and folding laundry. hehe

Friday, September 20, 2013

Been busy here on the little homestead

It's been a bit crazy here this week. Canning up all my tomatoes (I'll show you early next week in a post) and getting the garden all ready for winter. These two things alone have kept me busy. Not to mention that the hubby has been home all week long and that always gets in the way of my normal routines.

I also had my monthly infusion for my RA, so there was one day I did nothing. It wears me out big time. But it has been working. Thank the Lord.

Speaking of the Lord, I have been spending lots of time every day reading this devotional my mom gave me as well as this book called "Not a Fan". Loving both of them. I have also been reading the Bible and doing my study on Luke everyday. Really enjoying it as well.

I also splurged and bought myself a really nice set of Lodge cast iron pans and a dutch cooker off Amazon for 65.00. I have been wanting a set of cast iron forever. Now to make sure I season it properly. I know it is easy, but it still makes me nervous.

So, next week, I will be back to my normal blogging schedule.

Leaving you all with a picture of one of the sunflowers from my garden.

Monday, September 16, 2013

My Weekly Goals

Last weeks goals took a bit to get started. It rained for three days, so I couldn't do any of the outside stuff. I did manage to do them on Saturday though. My flower garden is looking much cleaner and there are two new mums in it. The flower boxes are also planted with some new mums as well. The potatoes are all dug up and the last of the butternut squash is out. I just need to can these.

I put off getting the new pressure canner when I saw a nice Lodge cast iron set on Amazon for 65.00. That is a steel and I have wanted cast iron since I moved out of my dads back when I was 18.  

The green beans are all canned. I ended up with just shy of 40 pints of them. I do have some left on the poles, but those are going to stay there to dry so I can save the seeds. The tomatoes did not get done. I am still pulling them out of the garden. This was the year of tomatoes for sure.

I am almost done with my blog planner. I will do a separate post on that. 

On to this weeks goals:

1. Can tomato sauce. All the frozen tomatoes are currently sitting in the double sink and counter to thaw out. I have a ton of tomatoes too. 

2. Dry onions, basil and parsley. I use these a lot in cooking and hate paying a bunch of money for thosee little jars. Herbs are so easy to grow and much cheaper to do myself. The onions I did buy from the farm up the street. Mine were a flop this year.

3. Can potatoes. I have enough from the garden to can 2 quarts. This was an experiment this year, so I didn't plant many potatoes, so I didn't end up with much. Next year I will plant more and do it a different way than this year.

4. Work on putting up the canning shelves. When a local grocery store went out of business, the hubby and I bought 3 big wire rack shelve sets. One is on wheels, so it can move around. 

5. Call my rheumatologist and the vet. I still have my shingles rash and have had to put off my infusion for a week because of it. I really need my infusion (hurting today) so to still have this rash is getting annoying. The kitten is due for a dose of flea and tick treatment. We have seen a couple of fleas on her (all taken off and flushed down the sink with boiling water). So both Abby and Max will need a dose of flea killer. 

What goals do you have for the week? Share them at Our Heart and Home.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dinner Plans 9/15 - 9/21

Sunday ~ Tuna Noodle Casserole

Monday ~ Barbecue Chicken Drumsticks, Rice, Beans

Tuesday ~ Beans and Franks

Wednesday ~ American Chop Suey, Garlic Bread

Thursday ~ Stuffed Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes, Corn

Friday ~ Steak Tips, Rice, Beans

Saturday ~ Skillet Sausage & Rice

Linked to Meal Plan Monday at

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Last of the summer harvests

Today I harvested pretty much the rest of the summer harvest. I have some peppers growing again (this has been an awesome year for peppers for us) and some tomatoes left, but everything else has been picked.

Today I picked the rest of the butternut squash and dug up the potatoes. This was the first year growing potatoes, so I just grabbed a package of potato seeds from Home Depot. I had 6 plants but didn't get much potatoes. I got mostly small ones. No big deal. This was an experiment this year. Next year I plan on buying my potato seeds from a company like Baker Creek or Territorial Seeds.

Not a lot of potatoes, but what I have here will get canned up to use in stews. I washed some but not the rest, as you can see. I also had a helper. When I put the basket down, Abby decided to sit in with the potatoes.

Kitty stretches. She was going bonkers today and was into everything of mine.

She even sat down in my water bath canner pot. I put it on the floor so I could wash it and she crawled in it.

My fall garden is looking good. The pea plants have flowers on them, the carrots are growing tall greens, the beans have started to produce and my lettuce is starting to be ready to pick. I picked a bunch of the romaine today. Making a salad for lunch tomorrow with it. It smells sooo yummy!

Getting ready for fall

Today was a nice cool day. It had a fall feel to the air. Fall time is my favorite time of year. I love the colors, the smells, the food, not to mention I was born in the fall.

The hubby and I went up to Maine today to do some shopping at Cabela's. He is going away on a hunting trip soon and they had a nice sale on some things that he needed. On the way back, we stopped at a farm so I could buy some mums and order some compost for the garden. We are extending the garden once again. I just hope it won't be too big for me to handle.

I bought 6 mums for my window planters. 2 in each planter. 2 are yellow, 2 are pink and 2 have not opened up yet, but they should be orange. All the mums are full of buds, so they should be full.

We also got two big mums for the flower bed in front of the deck, the garden that my dad did up for me in the spring. It was in bad shape and needed to be weeded something fierce. I still need to trim up the bee balm though. The grass in front of the bed was so long (Matt was afraid to mow close to the bed) that it started to decompose on itself.

The bed still looks like it needs something, but once the buds open up on the mums, it will really be colorful.

My cute little flag that I gt at Christian Book Distributors. I use to work there, miss it sometimes. I love owls and the country look to the flag. Plus it fits well with the theme of the yard right now.

Our corn stalks are ready to be cut and will be put together in groups of 6 or 8 to use as decorations for the deck and flower garden area. I also need to get a couple of cute scarecrows that I saw at the craft store. Of course the pumpkins too, but ours are still green. I know I will be buying some this year too. I love to roast the seeds and the hubby and son like to carve them.

What kind of things do you do to decorate your home and yard for the fall?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Putting up green beans

Now that my pole beans are done producing and the beans are all canned up, I have a little more time to write on my blog. I haven't felt good the past couple of days and have just been relaxing with the cats.

The pole beans produced way more than the bush beans have in the past. I may skip the bush beans next year and just do the pole beans instead. Will save me some room. No need to have them both growing.

This is a huge bowl, just shy of a half a bushel. This is only some of the beans that I picked. It took me a couple of hours to snip and snap and cut up the beans.

It's a good thing we like beans, I canned about 36 pints and have more to do. The beans I have left on the poles I am going to let dry out to save.

To can them, I don't do anything special. I just follow the directions in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I don't add any canning salt. Hubby is on blood pressure meds, so I don't like to add salt if I don't have to. It's one thing I love about canning my own veggies. I know what is going in them.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A prayer answered

Last night I was thinking/praying how and why I was lead back to the Lord. After spending so much time away from him, I figured that I was a lost cause and would never be forgiven. Even with the way I have been feeling (totally wonderful and excited), there is still that doubt that I am screwed.

Today's devotion in Experiencing God Day By Day by Blackaby answered those questions and put any doubts to rest. It referenced Jeremiah 2:2

God wants me to remember how I felt when I first took him into my heart. He remembers how he felt when we first loved him. I remember never being ashamed of loving him, never hiding the fact that I am a Christian from my friends. I always loved the way I felt when attending church (at least as a young child, not a teen), when singing songs to praise the lord, putting on plays telling the birth and death of Jesus. The more I remember how I felt back then, it reminds me of how I have been feeling this past week.

The devotion also mentioned Malachi 3:6-7

" I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you." 

Gods feelings for me have not changed. Even during my time away, he still loved me. With me slowly returning to him, he will return to me. All those wonderful feelings of completeness have started to come back. I truly feel like he is coming back to me as well.

I have never had a prayer or questioned answered like this. If I did, I was not paying attention or listening. Today is a wonderful day!

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