I love the YoungHouseLove blog. I read it every morning before I get ready for the day. It motives me to get something done. Although that doesn’t happen all the time. Today the post was about one of their readers, Jamie, with a design dilemma. Their readers were asked for suggestions for Jamie on how to fix her dilemma of a blank wall. Hey, I am one of the million readers so why not give my suggestion. Here it goes.
My turn to try at a design suggestion. The blank wall screamed to me that it needs a texture or pattern, even add repetition to break it up so it doesn’t look like a monster of a wall. So what is the answer, are you ready? You better hold on because it is a good one and you will just kick yourself for not thinking of it yourself, Board & Batten. You can find a tutorial here. Okay pat yourself on the back it you did think of it. In addition to the board & batten add a small ledge so photos can be placed to add repetition with variation (different photos, same size and frame). Jamie even has a photo that is on the self behind the self to bring in the photos on the board & batten self. Now that is variation.
Great suggestion, right. This is where you nod your head in agreement. Sherry from YoungHouseLove also suggested to paint the air vent and doorbell cover the same color of the wall, that is why she is the bomb.
Oh, do you love the photo of my little one. She is my little cutie on the new wall. Good luck Jamie and thanks Sherry for the fun challenge this morning.
Blue Flax flowers are amazing with the brilliant blue painting their way trough my garden. They are very hearty and drought resistant. But beware they reseed with ease. I can’t get rid of them. I am pulling them out of everything. My poor neighbors have them in their lawn. After I planted them I realized that these flowers are the tiny blue flowers that pepper the fields along the highways. But wow look at that blue. Have you seen any flower with this blue?
The surprising part is that they have a different beauty in the winter.
The pears are ready to can. It has been a week since I purchased them at the farmers market. Remember how green they were. Once I brought them home I took them downstairs in the cool and laid they out on a soft towel so they could ripen.
Yep, they are done and are ready to can.
Get all things ready to go. All canning supplies, fruit, simple syrup, bottles, rings, lids, ice, small knife to peel skin, and the must have to prepare the pears, a melon baller.
Simple Syrup: 6 cups water and 2 cups water. Bring to boil. This recipe is for a light syrup. You can make a heavier syrup by just adding more sugar.
Most people roll their eyes when they hear I can pears. Then the statement of “I hate canning pears, the peeling is awful.” I simply smile and think, I love it, it is like peeling a sunburn with out the pain. Wait, did I just admit I like to peel a sunburn, Gross.
The secret is a hot water bath just like peaches and tomatoes. Place pears in a hot water bath for only 5 seconds and instantly place in ice water. The peel comes right off with ease.
Once you peel a pear, slice the pear in half and use my favorite tool. Yes, the melon baller to remove the core and clean up the stem (if you don’t clean up the step area you get strings, gag. No, seriously that is what I do when I eat pears with stem strings). The melon baller gives the pear a neat and beautiful shape and no strings. I am so giddy with how great these pears look.
This does take some time and as you know the pears will start to brown (my girls would correct me here and say “Oxidize, Mom.”) To keep the pears from
turning brown oxidizing you can add 1/4 cup of lemon juice to a bowl full of fruit or add a shake or two of Fruit Fresh. Stir the fruit gently so that fruit is covered with lemon juice or Fruit Fresh.
If the pears turn a little brown no worries. During the water bath the brown will go away.
Fill clean jars with fruit. Place fruit so the outside of fruit is showing. I have said it before and I will say it again, “If it doesn’t look good your not going to eat it. And forget about the kids eating it too.” Once the jars are filled add simple syrup up to 1/2 inch from top. Then check for air bubbles by taking a butter knife and slide it down the side of the jar to release bubbles. Add more simple syrup if needed. Don’t forget to wipe off the lip of the bottle with a clean warm cloth to remove anything that might interfere with the sealing process.
Process in a hot water bath for 35 minutes for over 3,000 altitude.
I love seeing pears come out of the water bath because they are so beautiful and white. They almost seem like they came from Heaven.
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Last week we were invited to a neighbors home for dessert. And this is what was served, Yummy moist chocolate cake. My husband promptly requested the recipe. To our surprise it was a zucchini cake. What? but this doesn’t taste like zucchini. Two zucchinis were still lingering in my kitchen from my zucchini bombing a few weeks ago so tonight I gave it a try. My kids voted, repeat.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
1/2 cup margarine
1/4 cup oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups zucchini (shredded)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 Tablespoon cocoa
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour
It all started on Saturday, my parents were in town and I took them to the Farmers Market. (My peaches I was hoping to buy were not ready yet.) My parents fell in love with a large beautiful banana squash. So the plans for Sunday dinner began. My sister lives in the next town over so we made plans to meet at her home for a dinner of bbq chicken, new red potatoes, corn on the cob, and “the large beautiful banana squash”. I was put in charge of the squash. I have never cooked squash before.
First Step: Get someone with very strong muscles to cut squash. (They are very think and hard to cut)
Second Step: Place squash in large baking pan and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Also add dabs on butter on top of squash.
Third Step: Add 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of pan. Cover with tin foil.
Forth: Place squash in heated oven of 400° for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Final Step: Remove squash from oven. Then with a large spoon remove flesh of the squash into a bowl. You may need to apply pressure to squash to release water. Add more salt, pepper, and butter if needed.
This is the magic step. Have brown sugar on the side to be served on top of squash.
Fairly easy, just takes time. Enjoy.
My baby loved it and I did not add brown sugar to her portion.
To manage my yard I set goals that I will weed this or that area with the little time I have. This summer I worked myself from flower bed to flower bed each night. Then I came upon this. I figured something was wrong because as I started my weeding a bird was going crazy and flying really low and swooping down at me. At first I thought that maybe there was a nest in my neighbors trees that were on the other side of the fence. This bird was majorly getting into my personal space I so I picked up my tools and gave up on weeding this section of garden. That is when I saw it, a beautiful nest made out of the weeds that I had not pulled yet.
Oh, I am so excited. I have a bird family in my yard and I get to share this cool thing with my kids. Right? Well, this bird family didn’t want to share their happy time with us. At first I was only attacked when I approached the nest (I did need to take care of my yard), then it extended to going into the back yard. One of the birds sat in the neighbors tree and once I walked in the back yard it would squawk and squawk at me. OK, I can give them space so they can have peace. But when the squawking started when I would go out the front door. Annoying. One day the bird followed me to the mail box (we have a community lock mailbox). It seem to be telling me to go back to my home where I belong and don’t come outside again.
Then on a early morning I looked out my window to see if my sprinklers were on in the back yard. By this time I rarely went in the back yard. I looked down and spotted a very large gopher snake.
After this day I have not heard one squawk. You can come to your own conclusion. My kids concluded that they baby birds flew away. I’ll let them think that. I just hope I don’t have another birds nest in my yard. Well, not one made by a bird that has it out for me.
Canning brings back so many memories of the end of summer. I spent many August days canning with my mom and sisters growing up. I can’t forget my Dad, he always was pickin’ in the garden or helpin’ in the kitchen. Although I canned the first part of my life I have forgotten most details and had to teach myself. With the help of the internet and many calls to my mom and sisters I have been able to relearn this art or bring back the memory of canning.
Tomatoes is a must for canning, we use them for making salsa in the dead of winter. It brings summer back to us.
1. Collect all your items you need.
- Bottles, lids, rings, water bath canner, bottle gripper, canning funnel, knife, cutting board, large pot for boiling water, slotted spoon, butter knife or small spatula, small pan to boil water for the lids and ice for an ice bath (I always forget this one. I only have ice cube trays and it is never enough for the ice bath. Our next fridge will have an ice maker.)
- Tomatoes, lemon juice, tomato juice, salt, and sugar
Choosing bottles. I got most of my bottles from others but if you happen to have the option to get a wide mouth bottle or a near neck bottle choose the wide mouth. They are much easier to fill. Easier = Faster and when you are canning you want it to go faster.
Who said canning isn’t an art.
2. Wash bottles and rings.
- Dishwasher works fab. Mine was doing a load so I washed them the old fashioned way, by hand. Yes, mom by hand!
- While you are washing set your large pan of water on the stove and bring to a gentle boil.
- Place a small pan of water on the stove with the lids in the water. Bring to a warm simmer. It doesn’t need to boil just keep hot.
3. Hot water bath to Ice, Ice, baby!
- Once your water is at a slow boil place you tomatoes in the water for 15 seconds. The skin will burst for an easy peeling.
- Place in ice water bath.
- Skin should peel like a bad sunburn, in big stripes.
- Cut into wedges and don’t forget to cut out the core.
*This is a good time to put your water bath canner on the stove to start to boil. It takes a lot of time to bring to boil and you won’t want to wait for it to boil.
4. Stuff those tomatoes.
- Fill clean jars with tomato wedges. For good presentation place the wedges so that the outside of the tomato shows. (If it don’t look good you ain’t going to eat it.)
- Add Lemon Juice, 1 tablespoon; Sugar, 1 teaspoon; and Salt, 1/2 teaspoon. (for pints)
- Pour tomato juice in jars 1/2 inch to the top.
The jars will have air pockets so gently place a butter knife down the inside of the jar to release the air. If the liquid goes below 1/2 of the top fill with more tomato juice.
*If you have left over tomato juice place in a Ziploc freezer bag and lay flat in freezer to use at a later time.
5. Give them a bath.
- Wipe rims of bottles with a clean hot cloth.
- Place hot lids onto the bottles and put a ring on it (I’m a single ladie, I am single ladies. Ooh, ooh, ooh, shoud’a put a ring on it)
- Seven bottles can be processed at one time. Place bottles in the rack and submerge so that the water is just over the top of the lids.
- Process time depends on your altitude. I process for 40 minutes in a slow rolling boil water bath.
Process Time at Altitudes for pints
0-1,000 / 35 minutes
1,001-3,000 / 40 minutes
3,001-6,000 / 45 minutes
Above 6,000 / 50 minutes
With your bottle gripper take the bottles out of the canner and place on a folded towel. Now this is one of my favorite memories of canning, hearing the pop of the lids when they seal. It is so satisfying to hear the fruits of your labor go pop as you rest on the couch after a long day of canning. It makes me giddy even thinking about it.
Just so you know my kitchen was a mess and my kids had free reign of the house when I was canning. (the kids were suppose to be doing home work but they knew I wouldn’t get on them) It never is a good time to can and you just have to do it when the garden is a callin’.
If you have any questions about canning contact your local Extension Office, they are the experts.
My garden produce enough tomatoes to can this year. Look at these beauties. This year I planted Roma, Early girls, Cherry, and I think a Sunburst tomato (they are small like the cherry but yellow. I have no pictures of those because we eat them as soon as I pick them. Yummy!)
Cherry tomatoes (I am learning how to use my micro effect on my camera and I just love how it turned out.
Of course I will no can these but the photo was so beautiful.