Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bread-n-butter pickles

Tonight I added to my canning know-how bread and butter pickles. Although I prefer dill, Ashley and Levi are lovers of a bnb pickle.  We will see how these taste in a month (how long you have to wait for them to properly cure) but I proud of their looks!

I am about over cucumber harvesting even though I know I will miss their taste. 

Note: this was my first post using my iPhone.  I am getting used to having a smartphone and am pleased with its camera.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Getting Good Use Out of the Place

My oldest son turned 5 June 15th. We gave him a "big boy bike", which he is working hard on learning how to ride. It won't be long and before he'll ride sans training wheels and will be able to cruise all over the place. He'll get good use out of those knobby tires!

Ashley constructed a massive slip-n-slide in the backyard for the party, which was enjoyed by all of Levi's cousins and friends. When we were building the house, I mentioned that we had an unfair advantage because we immediately had a landscaped yard, thanks to Ashley's line of work. His work with irrigation came in handy for the slip-n-slide project, too: he rigged up three irrigation heads on stands to provide the water stream. 

We used our side yard as the supper and sweets location--it worked out perfectly, thanks to mild weather (little humidity). We've never used the parking side yard much (favoring the front, back and garden side yards) but after having the party there, we'll use it more. Debbie, Ashley's mom, is helping me dream up ways to create more of a room feel (think arbor, picket fence, and more plants). Oh the party's theme was construction (in case you notice the caution tape everywhere). 

The fort got lots of use, too!

Back to the blackberries...stinkbugs have been a BIG nuisance. 

Notice how the berries have white spots? That's where the evil stinkbugs injected their "poison". Yuck.

Never fear, I have waged a war against these pests...flicking them into a bucket of soapy water. And I continue to harvest around 2 gallons of blackberries a DAY. 

Last week I made blackberry jelly for the first time. Here are the berries getting ready to be juiced.

Then squeezing the berries and putting the juice in a jar. Jellying is a lot of work!

 This past Saturday we had an unwelcome visitor...while my friend Sandra and I were enjoying our lunch in the dining room, our heard our dog barking. I went outside and discovered this HUGE snake. I called my father-in-law, who came over and took care of it (we can't have snakes like that roaming about when we have chickens). Good riddance!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Bounty Begins..

A few weeks ago, the boys had the ultimate front seats....watching concrete being poured in our parking area. We've been in the house for two years and finally took the plunge and created a solid surface to play and park on. As you can imagine, Mason and Levi were glued to the action from 8:30 a.m.- 2 p.m. We even ate our lunch on the porch.

I've been pretty excited about all the yumminess coming out of the garden. We've finished harvesting the carrots, including these funny ladies. My mother-in-law commented that this picture looks like synchronized swimmers. One of the best things about raising your own food is seeing the variety of ways vegetables grow. Those carrots in bags at Publix didn't start as stubby "baby carrots".... I laughed out loud washing this group off. And then made a batch of Asian Pickled Carrots. I'm trying to limit myself to only eating a few a day. They are delicious!

Last year the birds ate almost all of our blackberries. This year, there are so many berries that the birds haven't been a problem. Look at these beauties! I just made a batch of Fresh Blackberry Jam with part of them. 

Both of the previous recipes came from this BHG Canning Magazine that my mother-in-law picked up last year. The photos are gorgeous and the recipes are winners so far!

Currently growing on this side of the garden, front to back: strawberries (though they really haven't done that great....or more accurately, critters have been enjoying the berries), soybeans, zucchini, cucumbers, peanuts, basil, green beans, corn tomatoes, and okra. On the other side, we have blank areas where we harvested the potatoes (in the rain, not a good idea) and carrots. Pink-eyed peas are coming along and sweet potatoes are also there. Ashley also planted a second crop of corn and green beans.

Our corn, tassels out! I meant to take a picture of the purple corn we're growing but forgot. Excited about that crop!

And this little guy is growing right along, too! 10 months old. What love!