Friday, August 31, 2012

Barrel Potatoes = Failure

I guess you can't win them all. After bragging about how well our garden was doing and how successful we had been for our first year, I'm sad to report our first failure. Barrel potatoes were not as amazing as we had hoped. Back in the spring my friend sent me a link on how to grow potatoes in a barrel. It looked easy enough and we figured that it would save us space and if it worked, bonus! So we followed the instructions carefully and planted our potatoes in a garbage can. They grew and we kept filling it with dirt and watering it faithfully. I thought we would be semi-successful since there were at least four healthy looking plants. But not so.

Don't worry, I documented it all in pictures so I could blog about it.

Getting ready to tip over our barrel
Hooray, a potato!
Hmm... not looking too promising. At all.

We found a few small potatoes

And this folks, is our entire potato crop of 2012
 We were so sad. We were expecting more than that and not even being able to fill a hand was very disappointing. It also doesn't help that we were depending on these potatoes for supper. Sad and hungry is not a good combination.

So sad
 But we made the most of it. We headed inside and fried up some eggs to go with our pathetic amount of potatoes and some green beans. We even got to use some of our oddly shaped eggs.

Three very different sizes

A double yolker and a yolkless one

Our meal for the evening
 But something we did discover after cooking up our food. This entire meal was all ours! Everything on our plate was from our yard. So that made it a little more exciting.

Hooray for home-grown goodness!
Maybe we'll have better luck next year?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What an awesome husband I have!

I am married to the most talented man ever! Seriously though, he is pretty darn amazing and he never ceases to surprise with what he can do. He picked up a couple pallets for me to choose from as I plan on using one for a house-related project. More on that later. I chose the one I wanted and we had two left over. I asked him to make a box type thing with them so that we could store our potatoes safely in our coldroom over the winter months. This morning, he made it. Check out the awesomeness!

Isn't it amazing??? I am absolutely in love with it. I've got me a keeper. I'm talking about the husband, in case you were wondering. :P

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Dreaded Day Job

Here I sit, at my desk on a boring Wednesday afternoon. Nothing on my to do list and no motivation to find something to do. Ugh. I hate it. I hate that I'm bored 90% of the time and that I have lost all good work ethic. I hate that I have to come and sit in an office chair and stare at a computer screen for 7 hours a day. I hate that I can't be at home doing all the things I want/need to do. Why do we need money to live? I'm working really hard on cutting back and working our budget to fit our income better but it's hard. We have a mortgage and house insurance and car insurance and life insurance and we need to eat and drive and live. Even with the bare necessities money is tight. Blah.

But, I am determined that we will cut back and we will make this work and I will not be stuck here forever. There is an end in sight. I've been researching different ways to save and spend less and we can do it. It's just an adjustment. It takes small steps in the right direction.

Now excuse me as I return to staring blankly into space work.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Content with the Little Things

Little things make me happy. I find myself smiling at more lately and that makes me happy too. I've been trying for so long to find joy in everything, to take the time to enjoy each day, and slow down enough to notice small things. Today I snapped a few pictures of things that make me smile and I wanted to share them on here. While some of these things may seem small and insignificant or even silly, they bring joy to me and that is all that really matters.

Yummy chicken pot pie that Dan made for supper

My new basket I got on sale for carrying massive amounts of tomatoes garden produce

My one sole cactus survivor in its cheery blue pot

Grapefruit Splash hand soap that smells amazing!

Mia playing in our sunny front yard

Eight more jars of tomato sauce that all sealed

Trees against blue skies

Holding Dan's hand

Silly silly Mia

Cute little leopard frog that Dan put in my pocket. Very very funny. NOT!
That is what is making me happy and making me smile today. Now I am off to bed for a hopefully long restful sleep.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Busy Weekend

This past weekend was a busy one. Dan was gone camping with a friend and I decided to keep myself plenty occupied so as not to feel too lonely. It sort of worked. I still sleep like crap when he's gone though so now I'm exhausted. Oh well. He's back now so hopefully I will be feeling more rested soon.

I had Friday evening, all day Saturday, and half of Sunday to fill. The original plan for this weekend was to just take time to myself to relax and do some lazy stuff, maybe have a girls weekend. At least that's what my therapist suggested. But here's the problem. I don't have many friends. :( And sitting around doing nothing by yourself all weekend doesn't sound that exciting. Another thing I have discovered in the past two weeks of simplifying and canning and homemaking, I enjoy it. A lot. I feel that when I'm doing stuff around the house and being productive, it puts me in a good mood. I've been feeling better both physically and emotionally these past two weeks and I'm contributing it to what I have been doing at home. Being at home makes me happy and being productive makes me feel accomplished. So that was what I did all weekend. Here are a couple pictures I snapped in between my productivity.

Friday I worked all day so I didn't get too much done around the house. I did make myself some french toast for supper and did dishes and overall cleaned up. Here is a picture I snapped of my kitchen once it was cleaned. Take note of the giant mound of tomatoes to the left of the sink and the chicken thawing on the other side. It makes me happy. I like to call this my working kitchen.

My working kitchen
Saturday was busier and I got a lot done before noon. I did two loads of laundry and you can see them here hanging on the line. I love having a clothesline. There is something really nice about seeing the laundry flapping in the sunshine and wind. Saving energy and getting the nice outdoorsy smell at the same time. Ahh... contentment.

The big accomplishment of the weekend was freezing corn! I usually get Dan to help me with it but we are busy most weekends and I didn't want to miss the corn season. So I did it myself. I went to the Farmer's Market in the morning and purchased my 5 dozen corn. Which came in a giant bag that I could barely lift. The nice guy I bought it from helped me by using a dolly and getting it in my trunk. But then I came home and there was no nice strong man to help me at this end. Only a cute little dog. But I did it! I got Dan's dolly and heaved and wiggled and somehow managed to get it out of the trunk. That was an accomplishment in itself. I then set myself up in the coolness of the garage with some music to keep me company before setting to work husking it all. As you can see, I had company throughout the whole thing.


 I then moved inside to set up my stations and get to work boiling, cutting, bagging and freezing!
My wall of corn

Cobs cooling in the sink

My inside work station

Cute me, working hard

Most awesome method for cutting the corn off the cob
Now you'll have to forgive me for not getting a picture of the finished product. After cutting corn off of 63 cobs of corn, my hand was numb, my arms sore, my feet aching and I was also hot and sweaty. I just wanted to be done. So I happily threw all the corn in the freezer before realizing I didn't get a picture of it bagged on the counter. Oops! So just imagine 54 bags of corn lined up all nice and neat. I used old milk bags in order to save money and I put a perfect Dan & Jennie sized portion in each bag. The milk bag thing is a trick my mommy taught me. Waste not, want not.

I collected the eggs on Saturday and chuckled at the size of one of the white ones. It's the size of a quarter, I swear. So tiny!

Itsy bitsy egg
 As a welcome home meal to the boys who had been camping all weekend, I lovingly prepared a roast chicken. This is the first of our very own chickens that we have eaten. It turned out really good! I even made apple pie for dessert but once again forgot to get a picture. We were too busy eating it to remember.

Our first chicken from our flock
That about sums up my weekend. Throw in some dishes, some reading, some church-going and some phone chats and that's basically got it covered. Oh wait, one more important thing I forgot. You can't have a successful weekend without the hubs without some of this!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Great Relish Adventure

It's time, time to tell you all about our adventures of making relish. Let's start from the beginning... Probably around last Monday, I mentioned to Dan that I wanted to make more relish this year. The last time we made our relish was 2009 and we only had 2 jars left. That wouldn't last us another whole year so I wanted to make some more. We then continued on with our everday life and I thought nothing more of it. Until I arrived home from work on Wednesday. There on the counter sat a giant bag of cucumbers. Dan then informed me that the place he had been working at that day had an overabundance of cucumbers and when Dan mentioned to the owner how I wanted to make relish, the lady sent home a bag. I guess we were making relish now then!

We actually waited until Thursday night to start the process. We had a whole set up going and were quite efficient if I dare say so myself!

Day 1: First, we washed and chopped and then food processed all the veggies.

We are ready to roll!

Pretty colourful start to the relish

Chopping veggies
 It was shortly after 8:00pm that we realized we had too many veggies and not enough pot. Oops! This was our first time making a full recipe of this relish, as last time we had made a half recipe.

Too full :(
 Faced with this dilemna, we did what any normal crazy person would do. We rushed off to Canadian Tire to purchase a new pot! Let me just say though that it was now 8:15pm, we live 20 minutes outside of town, and Canadian Tire closes at 9:00pm. We didn't have any time to dilly dally.

After some discussion and looking at all the pros and cons to each pot, we decided on a sturdy 32L pot for the grand ol' price of $74.99. Ouch. That wasn't in the budget this month. But it was needed and it will last us for the rest of our relish making career. We hope.

The one on the left was the chosen pot!
 While we were out, I figured we may as well pick up some other needed supplies. More jars, new lids and some wooden spoons. Can you tell that I had just spent 2+ hours chopping veggies and it was now nearing my bed time?

Impromptu shopping!
 Upon returning home, we needed to finish chopping/processing the veggies. We were at the dreaded onion stage though and cried our way through it. Chopping onions sucks!

Cute baby onions from our garden

All the veggies chopped and ready to soak for the night!

I love my new pot.
We finally finished the prepping close to 10:00pm and once the veggies were safely soaking in their water & salt bath, we decided it was time for a reward. Chocolate cake here we come!

A little late night snack
That completed day one of the relish making adventure. We desperately needed sleep by this point and the veggies needed to soak. But don't worry, there's more coming!

Day 2: Time to add spices, cook and then can!

Preparing the "sauce"
 I must say something about our pot. It may hold a lot of veggies but it isn't the most convenient thing to wash. Or drain. Or stir. As we soon found out. Oh well. We made do!

Draining the pot was complicated

And so was stirring the contents!

Filling the jars with yummy relish
Ta da!!!! We were so proud of ourselves by the time we were done. Sixteen jars and all but one sealed. That's an accomplishment if I dare say so myself.

Our beautiful jars of Nanny's Sunshine Pickle!
 Oh, and while we were in the midst of all the canning and the jars were hot and the lids were soaked, I figured I would re-can the 4 jars of tomatos that didn't seal. Stupid jars. But I'm happy to say they all sealed this time. Except we mixed the 1/4 jar one into the next batch we did. We want full jars around here.

Moving on back to the tomatoes

4 jars turned into 3 1/4
So that my friends is our relish  making adventure. We had a ton of fun and laughed a lot and enjoyed working together. And it resulted in 16 beautiful jars of relish. Success!