February 2015

I can hardly believe that we are halfway thru February already.  The weather has been absolutely unpredictable and brutal in some area’s.  Poor Boston and it’s surroundings have been the latest target of Mother Nature.  Here in the Mid-Atlantic we have been pretty lucky and dodged many of the storms. 
My evenings and weekends have been filled with thoughts and plans for our garden.  I bought a very inexpensive green house on clearance at the end of last season and have been looking forward to setting it up all winter.  I have been collecting my seeds, reading up on the best way to grow the healthiest and hardiest crop this year.  I want to do a lot more canning than we did last summer.  We have pretty much eaten what we canned and enjoyed every bit of it.  I upgraded my very old (my grandmothers) Presto canner for a 23 quart All American canner.  I can’t wait to use it.  A few weeks later I also got an incredible deal that I couldn’t pass up on a 15 quart All American canner.  The snow OT that I have gotten at work was worth it for my new canners.  My weekends have been tied up ever since with the grandchildren, some church stuff, YouTube watching, some well deserved social time and of course the snow.  Until the planets align and everything is right with the world, lol, I have been looking thru my canning and preserving books and flagging the recipes that I am going to try.  I have had my water bath canner out and made a few different kinds of thai chili sauces that were scrumptious.  Come on Springtime!!

One of my grandson’s turns 3 today.  He is so excited.  I love to see the anticipation and excitement in a young person when they understand what is happening and the reason for the celebration.  Today is his special day and he has been smiling all day.  My daughter has been sending me pictures and short video’s of how his day has gone, I can’t wait to see him this afternoon.  Since he was born partially deaf, they have taught him how to say Happy Birthday in sign language these last few weeks at school.  His vocabulary has grown so much and his comprehension is impressive.  Nothing gets this young man down.  We are all hoping that he will be eligible to have corrective surgery  to open his ear cannals after his ears stop growing at age 7.  That should – in theory – restore all of his hearing.  Many prayers have been said but he is a blessed boy and it wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t able to happen.  I am so proud of my daughter and son-in-law for loving him and treating him like any other child. 

So that sums up what has been happening around here at OurBullyHomestead.  Oscar and Daisy (our english bulldogs) have been pampered and staying warm by the fire.  I pray everyone stays safe and gets to spend time with the family.

Happy 2015!!!

Wow!  I can’t believe we made it thru December and into the New Year!  What a December it was.  Work was great and I was looking forward to having a week off between Christmas and New Year but wound up having 2 weeks off with the flu.  Yuck!  We even decided to post pone our big Christmas celebration until the Saturday after.  A few of the grandchildren had it, my husband had it, one of our daughters and our son-in-law was down with pneumonia.  Thank goodness everyone seems to be just about normal again…..not that any of us were normal before, lol.  We also suffered a loss in the family.  My male english bulldogs’ brother (littermate) unexpectedly passed away.  He belonged to my husband’s nephew and family – our canning buddies.  Hugo was only 3 years old.  My Oscar (3) and Daisy (6) are the sweetest things and I can’t imagine the day that we lose one of them. 

I was able to save enough to finally purchase the All American Canner #930 that I have wanted.  I have been using my grandmothers old canner that worked but even after changing the gasket, pressure gauge and getting a new weight it still lost a lot of water so we had to fill it with so much to start with.  I am so excited and can’t wait to try it.  I have a few recipes for chili beans, spicy black beans, raspberry serrano pepper sauce and a pineapple jalepeno glaze/jelly/jam to try out.  The sauces can be done by water bath but the beans are definitely pressure canned.  Our youngest daughter does not like beans and therefore does not eat them so the minute I mentioned that was one of the things we were doing all she said was “have fun with that”.  I guess that means I lost her for those recipes.  She’s 18 and has never eaten them so I doubt her taste will change.  I hope she ventures in for the 2 sauces, she is a fantastic cook and I think these are so versatile that she would have fun experimenting with me.  I hope we can get a few pictures to post along the journey. 

We hope that your Christmas was merry and that 2015 is a blessing.  Talk to you soon.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving!  This is my favorite time of year.  The weather has turned cooler, the leaves have changed and either fallen from the trees or are just a breeze away from falling.  The woodstove is aglow with ambers, blues, reds and lots of heat.  The scent of cinnamon fills the air thru the kettle on top of the woodstove.  Thoughts of family seem to rummage thru my mind with hopes that I have canned and put up enough goodies to last until the new bounty begins in the Spring. 

I look forward to the weekend when I can stay at home and work on my sewing or quilting projects.  I have the crackle of the fire behind me, the Hallmark channel on, our 2 bulldogs snoring away at my feet and the glow of my sewing machine passing the time.  This year I made a few table runners for my daughters and a couple casserole carriers for my girlfriends.  I sure hope they like them.  Christmas will be here before we know it! 

I wish you all a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.  May you enjoy time with your family far and near.

Winter’s Coming

Listening to the weather forecast this week has made me a little anxious.  We haven’t harvested nearly enough wood to last the winter.  My husband had scheduled a few weeks ago to meet up with a few other men from our church and get a few cords each this coming weekend.  I am hoping that it stays dry and not too cold so we they get it all done.  We each split it at our homes but its so much easier as a group to get it all harvested and cut into manageable pieces. 

With the long weekend (we are off Monday’s until January) my daughters and I are hoping to can some sweet potatoes and chicken.  I have a couple of new recipe’s to try out with the sweet potatoes, wish me luck, lol!  It is so nice to come home from work and have just about everything perfectly cooked, you just need to combine it and heat it thru.  Our canning has helped quite a bit since my foot surgery.   I can let our youngest daughter know what’s  planned for dinner and she can just whip it together.  Granted, she’s 18 and a wonderful cook but it’s nice to have your own convenience or fast food that you know whats in it.  With the time change (I dislike it, why can’t it be light in the evenings a bit longer) our schedules are off and since it is dark when we leave for work and dark when we come home we are tired.  At least winter will give me a chance to plan the garden in the spring. 

Looking forward to a busy weekend.  What do you have planned this weekend?

 

Looking forward to having some fellowship this weekend!

I can’t tell you how much I missed being with other people.  I had foot surgery a few weeks ago and was home laid up a couple of weeks not able to really do much of anything.  I came back to work last week and have been playing catch up while also getting used to using a knee walker.  Kind of looks like a scooter but you kneel on it with your bad side and push off with your good side.  It took a little getting used to but I have become pretty efficient traveling through my building at work.  My husband jazzed it up a little for me; he added a cup holder and a bicycle bell.  It had already included a basket or that would have been another must have…a girl has to carry all of her necessities, lol.  I must add that it is worth the investment if you are planning on or find yourself having any foot surgery.  This is much better than hobbling around on crutches. 

Since I had my surgery we have had to post pone putting up any apples for the winter.  I have so many recipes that I want to try.  I hope they are still plentiful in a couple of weeks when I can start walking again.  This made me think of things I could do (when I was not sleeping because of the pain meds) since I was going to be home.  Our youngest daughter (18) and son (21) were going to be home with me at times and I wanted to take the opportunity to see if they had any ideas or have areas that they thought we were lacking in.  After all, our prepping is for them too.  I spent a few wonderfully productive days with them – my daughter even helped me update my food storage binder.   I love that we have a binder that is dedicated to our food storage.  I keep it in the basement closet my husband built specifically for our long term items.  I like having recipes and knowledge on what to do with it all.  I started with the basic concept from the Food Storage Made Easy ladies.  I expanded with lots of information that I have gotten and tried from the internet and the LDS cannery.  I am fortunate that my family is supportive and understand the value of prepping for the future.  We came up with some great ideas and are making a plan. 

I hope this inspires you to take a step back and review what you have and what you need.  With our world today you need to be ready for the unexpected. 

 

I just love love love canning season!

I guess all of the fixes to WordPress have been made, I haven’t been able to post here for 2 weeks!  We have done so much canning in that time.  My husband and I picked up 50 lbs of white potatoes; his nephew and wife came over and we canned mostly chuncks but we did a batch each of sliced.  We covered a good portion of a foldable 5 ft table we pull out for such an occassion.  We had every jar seal!  I love the pinging when we pull them out of the pots and let them rest. 

This past weekend, the same group canned 2 bushels of green beans.  I have never snapped so many green beans at one time in my life!  They were super fun, sitting around the table snapping and talking.  We processed 55 quarts and 1 pint jars of those wonderful green veggies.  I made some pork last night for dinner with a side of rice and we opened up a jar of those beans – they were fantastic.  These will/should last us through the winter.  Note to self that we should probably do 2 bushels EACH if we plan to have enough to last the entire year.  I am hoping that I will have some planted and be able to grow our own next year.  The soil here in MD is mostly clay so it takes many seasons to build up the soil into something that will sustain anything besides weeds or poison ivy – which my bully’s seem to find all the time. 

Taking a break this weekend to plan our upcoming PrepCon I convention.  We don’t have any preparedness conferences around us so why not start one.  We have vendors lined up and looking for more.  I have an instructor that will give the Handgun Qualification License (required in MD) to be able to purchase any regulated firearm.  Should be a good show, my inner circle is very good with logistics.  Wish us luck and all prayers are accepted. 

Hope you all have a great and productive week!

Putting food up from the garden

This past weekend we were blessed with about 30 good sized cucumbers.  What to do with them all?!  We had already made a dozen jars of pickles a few weeks ago so I had to search what else we could do with them.  I came across a recipe for Chow Chow that sounded interesting.  I had to purchase the cabbage and carrots but we had all of the rest of ingredients right in the garden.  It didn’t take long to get things chopped and measured – since we had such an abundance I made the recipe X6.  We put everything in my large roasting pan to sit overnight – or in our case 24 hours.  I got to work making the juice for this concoction and simmered it all for 40 minutes.  I was able to can 14 pints and 4 quarts of this stuff.  I sure hope we like it, lol.  Some of it my daughter and I made spicy!  We will be opening a jar of it some time in the coming weeks once it is settled and all of the flavors have married in the jar.  Keeping our fingers crossed, we have been successful so far this year. 

Labor Day weekend is fast approaching.  We usually camp but this year our camping buddies have their truck in the shop so we opted to have a mini staycation at home.  I am hoping to get some potatoes and tomatoes canned.  I would also like to get our pantry re-organized now that the end of summer is here.  I think I am going to pick up some fabric baskets and I see a lot of people using the half gallon mason jars to store the items they use in the every day pantry.  I like that look so I am going to see if I can find some at my local box store. 

What plans do you have for the weekend?  Have you been able to save any goodies from the garden to enjoy this winter?  We would love to hear about it.

We have been challenged!!

So I go onto my FB page to see that one of our dear friends has nominated my husband and 2 other good friends to do the ALS Ice Bucket challenge.  This has been the thing to do in recent days.  Even the media has been covering stories and celebrities have been performing the challenge and making donations. 

The 3 men are all good friends and decided to accept that challenge and do it together.  As we arrive with a change of clothes and towel for Kenny and our 5 gallon bucket we start discussing how they are going to perform this challenge.  They decide they are going to be sitting in the hot tub  while the wives pour the buckets of water over them all while being taped.  To our surprise, my husband and his bff both nominated their wives…..uh oh!  I didn’t bring any clothes, what would I do??  I borrowed a tank top and proceeded to complete our challenge – let’s get this done!!  Standing in the bottom of a stairwell we made our nominations and had the water poured over us….as it pooled in the bottom it seemed to get colder and colder.  Ice cubes were floating everywhere, lol. 

So glad that we were a part of such a worthy fund raiser.  We took our challenge and paid our donation.  There are so many families that are suffering with this horible disease.  My prayers are with them.  May we find a cure soon! 

What exciting events are you doing?  Has anyone called you out for a challenge?

The weekend is here!!

TGIF!!!  What a week it has been!  My poor husband has been home with an injury and I have been commuting the hour and half to and from work by myself.  Looking forward to chilling out and getting some much needed things done at home.  One of our grandson’s is having a birthday party tomorrow so that will be fun and festive.  Our 2 bulldogs have been enjoying having daddy home.  They are such loving members of the family.  Oscar knows when to look for us to come home.  He likes to be in our front window looking out waiting.  When we get out of the vehicle he runs to the door.  He is so funny!

This week I have been able to straighten up our food storage closet.  Checking the dates of items, putting the like things back with the like things.  It is looking pretty good, I can now see what we are low on and keep my eyes open for those things on sale.  I have started to keep chocolates and candies sealed in mason jars for a little surprise pick me up should we ever need it in the future.  I gave my husband the plans to build a rotating can shelf but that has been put on hold with his injury.  Oh well, all in time.  This weekend’s project is to organize our Bug Out Tote (yes, tote, lol).  We all have bags ready to go but we have decided to include a rolling tote that would include more items than we could carry but easily roll out and put in the back of our truck.  We live only miles from a natural gas plant and a few miles from a nuclear power plant as well so we were thinking we may have a longer evacuation. 

I hope you have a wonderful and productive weekend.  What do you have plans to accomplish? 

 

100 things in 1001 days

So I have been reading about this 100 things in 1001 days challenge.  How exciting and motivating!!  I think I may have to sit down and write out a list for us.  I will definitely be adding more camping, home food storage and more canning!  We have started canning this year, I haven’t done it in so many years and always did it with my grandmother.  I remember making jams and jellies and preserving applesauce to enjoy all year.  We have added pressure canning meats and stuff to our staples.  That was scary at first but now that we have done it I can say that it wasn’t so bad.  So canning will be my challenge for this coming weekend.  Peaches are all in the farmers markets and what a nice gift that will be to give someone a pretty jar of homemade preserves and add to our food storage.  Sounds like a win win to me!  Hope your having a great day!!