Monday, July 27, 2015

Homeschooling Inspiration through a Guest Post



As I look towards a new year of homeschool with my children, I feel excited, overwhelmed, nervous, determined, scared, plus a mixture of many other feelings and emotions. 
It is a huge undertaking that I do NOT take lightly... Having a daughter that is grown and about to enter the adult world of looking for a job and making her way, I am even more aware of the massive task it is to raise my children in the ways of the Lord and prepare them for this world. 

I am so very thankful for this timely word from a dear woman who I admire greatly. 
Follow the following link to my cousin's blog, it is a guest post from his Mother in law. There are many other excellent posts on his blog that I am sure you will find thought provoking and enjoyable.
You will be blessed from it, I have no doubt. 


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Friday, July 24, 2015

What's Worth Your Time?


We live in a crazy, super busy world. A world that will suck every spare moment of time if you let it... A world that if you could live without sleep, many would do just that. There is just SO much to do. We are looking towards a very busy season of our lives and it sometimes overwhelms me with all that has to be done... and I have to truly focus on what NEEDS to be done. 

We will be starting back to school soon, I didn't plan to really have a full summer vacation, but we have been SO busy, it kinda has taken that turn. We've continued to read and do some math here and there... but nothing formal. Just here and there stuff. 

The garden is still producing and there is still things that need to be canned for the upcoming year. I want to have a full larder so that we can hopefully keep our grocery budget down through the winter. 

Both our boys will be playing football this fall. We are a football loving family, so this is exciting, but with any sport... there is a great deal of time 'on the go'. 

Our responsibilities in other areas are still there... that has not changed. In fact, it looks as that we may even have more of those, so getting those in check is an important task. 

But what NEEDS to be done... all these are have to's... Commitments that we have made. They need to be done, but what I mean is what truly needs doing?

**********************************************************

Quality time is super important to our family. Shannon and I want that closeness with our children. It is vital. Quality time can be as simple as playing a board game. Taking a hike. Having a picnic. Visiting the aquarium... just doing things together. We know our children are growing up quickly... we see it already so we want to do our best to do things with our kids, even if it is just simple little things... but we want to do them often!

Discipleship. This is true to our heart. We make a time most every day to have 'devotion' with our children.  Spending time teaching them Biblical truths and learning why we believe what we believe is of great importance. Discipleship goes a long way farther than that. We have to live what we believe day in and day out. We have to show our children that what we claim is not something that we just put on for Sunday services and then act like the world during the rest of the week.... We want to do our best to live it day in and day out... When we get up and when we lay down and when we walk beside the road, to paraphrase Deuteronomy.  Going to church together goes hand in hand with this, as does having a personal quiet time with the Lord in prayer and Bible reading daily on our own.

Those are two big ones for our family, there are plenty other things that we try our best to keep on our schedules, but these are the most NEEDFUL, the most necessary, the most important to our hearts. 

Have you thought about what you have laid out before you and what you -need to do- compared to what you are doing? Just like a garden needs tending, there are lots of things that consume our time and may need a bit of weeding. Social media is a time sucker for me. It is something I know needs to be scaled back. Maybe you watch a lot of television... that is another thing that can chew up hours of your day! Examine your own heart and life and pray... ask the Lord to show you where your life needs pruning and be willing to go forward with His direction.

Blessings to you my friends!
xoxoxo






Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Lemons. Blueberries. Zucchini... Oh My!

Friends... go outside to your garden. Pick your zucchini... you know you have one. They grow overnight. You will have one the size of a stick one evening and by the next morning it's the size of Captain Caveman's club. True Story.
You may look at this cake just like my Moma did and say... "Ehhh, I don't know if I am going to like a zucchini cake." 
I had more faith in it than she. I've seen many times where zucchini can make baked goods incredibly moist and delicious. I found the recipe a few weeks back and my sister told me if I made it, she wanted some. Being that my sister is pregnant with my fourth nephew, what little sister wants... little sister gets!

So knowing we were canning salsa yesterday and I took over the ingredients to make this cake. 

Make it. 
Yes.
Do it.
It's GOOOOOD!



         Blueberry Zucchini Cake
        3 eggs, lightly beaten
         1 cup vegetable oil (you could use your favorite type of oil here)
         3 teaspoons vanilla extract
         2 1/4 cups white sugar 
         2 cups finely shredded and drained zucchini
         3 cups all-purpose flour (I only had ap flour available, but I plan to try again with half wheat)
         1 teaspoon salt
         1 teaspoon baking powder
         1/4 teaspoon baking soda
         1 pint fresh blueberries (you can reserve a few for garnish if so desired)
         
         Lemon Buttercream
         1 cup butter, room temperature
         3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
         1 lemon, juice and zest of (about 2 tablespoons)
         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
         1/8 teaspoon salt
        
Instructions
1  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 8-inch round cake pans.
2  Grate a large zucchini (or two small zucchini) and place in a clean dish towel. Squeeze until most of the liquid comes out. You will want to have 2 total cups of shredded zucchini after it has been drained. Set aside.
3  In a large bowl and using a hand mixer, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar. Fold in the zucchini.
4  Slowly add in the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Gently fold in the blueberries. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans.
5  Bake 35-40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes in pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
6  Lemon Buttercream
7  Combine butter, sugar and salt and beat till well combined.
8  Add lemon juice and vanilla and continue to beat for another 3 to 5 minute or until creamy.
9  Fold in zest*.
10          *If you are piping this buttercream, I recommend leaving out the zest.

                                                                                                                                                                    Recipe found here originally i am baker

Enjoy!







Thursday, July 16, 2015

Garden Update 7.16.15

::Herbs: Starting from the bottom is Lavender, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary::

Good Morning! I thought I would share a little about how the garden is doing today... We have had one extreme or the other around here. Flooding rains and then days of dry... back and forth. Not a good medium, but thankfully the garden is still doing nicely. By and far the best we have had in the past few years. Mainly because my sweetheart has really outdone himself on the layout of the garden this year.  

::Peppers: Jalepeno, Bell, Habanero::

Our place really struggles with what we call 'crab grass'. I'm not sure what others may call it. But it is HORRIFIC stuff. Invading everything and if it gets in, there is no getting it out. So This year we were heavy on the weed barrier and the vinegar solution to kill back the grasses and also we laid down a covering of straw. We still get the stray weeds, but they are SOO much more manageable. 
Once Shannon laid down all the foundation for the garden, then he added beds, compost, topsoil, manure, etc in each bed and then the plants. 

::Watermelon::
These are just a few pictures of the beds, we are planting some late plants for fall, but these are the ones that are coming full circle right now. This is a Sugar Baby Watermelon.. We have several nice size fruits. My Eli LOVES watermelon, so I know that he is looking forward to harvesting these!

::Onions and Nasturtium::
The onions are really doing well this year. I am looking forward to planting my garlic patch in the fall, hopefully these will be a really good size by then too!
::Cherry Tomatoes::
I planted a lot of these little beauties. We eat a lot of cherry tomatoes. So many great ways to enjoy them! Salad, pasta, or just right off the vine! 

:Sungold Cherry Tomatoes::
My favorites! 

::Close up of Parsley::
So pretty
A close up shot of my parsley because it is just so nice! I don't think I've ever grown such a pretty parsley patch. I'm excited for fresh herbs to cook with!

::Wildflower Patch with sunflowers in background::
And one of my favorite parts... Wildflowers. Not only are they nice to grow because they are so pretty, but they give the bees food... but anytime I need a sprig of happiness, I make me a cutting and bring inside some sunshine. 
::Zinnia:: 
Such a sweet little treat. 

The garden is in nice order right now and we are enjoying it's bounty daily. 

Thanks for stopping by! 
Xoxoxo



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Canning Vegetable Soup... It's easier than you think!

For as many years as I can remember, we have canned vegetable soup. It's one of those quick, go-to suppers and or lunches. You can pop open a jar and add hamburger meat to it to make it a bit heartier. Chicken. Pasta noodles... it gives way to a lot of variety. 
I'll give you the way we like it  and you can take it from there. The method is the same on all vegetable soups, I would imagine... It's up to you on what you would like to incorporate.
Green beans
Potatoes
Frozen peas
Carrots
Corn
Onions
Garlic
Tomato Sauce
Water
Salt
Pepper

Those are the basics to what we like in our soup. I know there are many out there who use other types of beans, or veggies. Go for it. Make this to suit your family and your preferences. 

We canned 43 quarts yesterday with approximately this much veggies.

10 lb peeled and cubed potatoes
6 lb chopped carrots
7 lb frozen peas (the reason we use frozen instead of fresh, is one...that's all we had. two, fresh peas get mushy, frozen works best for us)
6 lb diced onions
6 lb corn (you can use fresh or frozen... we have used both, a lot of times, it depends on availability)
10 lb green beans (we had fresh and used those)
18 lb tomato sauce (or there about)
Water to thin 
Garlic (to your own taste)
Salt and Pepper (to your taste, but we add about a tsp to each jar)

This is where you get to play... If you like more potatoes, add them... More carrots? Go for it.
Make soup. Make what you like. 

Add it to a large stock pot. With your tomato sauce, it can make your soup really thick, so that is why we use a bit of water to help thin it down, slightly. I don't really want ketchup consistency. ;)

Get your pot of soup nice and HOT! You want to cook it anywhere from 5-15 minutes once it gets hot. 

Ladle into your jars leaving one inch of head space and use the same process for canning like you would always do. Hot lids and rings applied after filling your jars. 

We process our quarts in a pressure canner (DO NOT USE HOT WATER BATH CANNER FOR THIS!!! ONLY PRESSURE CANNER!) for 85 minutes at 10 lb pressure. 
If you want to make pints, it is 55 minutes for those.

Continue to follow your canners directions... allow to cool and for the pressure to drop completely before removing your jars. When our canners are cooled down enough to empty, we have a large, thick towel laid out and set our hot jars on there to finish cooling. You will likely see your jars bubbling still. They are extremely hot, please use caution. 
Let your jars rest for a good 24 hours to make sure the seal has been made and your food is nice and safe. 

There you go... the way we make soup. Take what you can from our ways and go forth and put up some great garden fresh goodness for your family while you can!