Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How to can 80 lbs of peaches!

I didn't intend to take a blogging break but peaches and all the other activities of the past couple of weeks caught up with me.  I spent the last few days recovering from busyness and getting the last of my ducks in a row for the new school year which starts tomorrow for us.  At last I feel recovered enough and in control of my time enough to sit down and blog again.

So you wanna know how to can peaches?  It isn't hard but it is a bit time consuming.

First you must acquire your peaches.  There are many places to get them:  At any grocery store, farmer's market, roadside stand, farm or my favorite... picking them yourself.  I'm very blessed to live in a very bountiful region. U-picks for all sorts of delicious fruits and veges abound.  The reason I like picking things myself?  It's fun, cheap, a great family activity and I like my children to know where food really comes from. 

Once the fruit is in your custody you must acquire a few more things. You will need: jars, rings, lids (widemouth is better for peaches), sugar, a water bath canner, a knife, hot pads, a towel and two handy dandy little utensils;  A jar grabber and a magnetic lid catcher. (Okay, those are probably not their official names, but that's what our family calls them.)  It doesn't hurt to have a Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving on hand either. (A current version, not your great-grandmother's copy from the 1930's.  The science of food preservation has come a long way.)

 Jars in the dishwasher

 Rings in the dishwasher

 Lids boiling on the stove

The "jar grabber" and "lid grabber"... so you don't have to stick your fingers in boiling water!

Scald and peel a few peaches at a time.  (Scalding helps the peels release from the fruit easier.) Cut peaches in halves or quarters (Discarding the pit with the peels- you can compost those.) and pack them into your clean and washed jars.

Next you must make a simple syrup to pour over the peaches.  It is a combination of sugar and water.  Check the Ball Blue Book for exact recipes.  ( also has great info.) Once the syrup is ready (It is hot and all the sugar is dissolved.) pour it over the peaches, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace in your jar.  Put a lid on the jar and seal it with a ring.  (Make sure to have boiled your lids- not just wash them- and make sure they are new.  You can reuse jars and rings but the lids should be new each time to ensure a proper seal. Also check the rims of your jars for knicks or anything that might prevent a tight seal from forming.)

 simple syrup

 jar ready for hot water processing

the water bath canner

Once you get enough jars processed put them in your water bath canner and fill it up with water until the jars are totally covered. Bring this to a boil and then leave the peaches to process for 25 minutes. (Some people prefer to keep their jars hot, the syrup hot and put the jars straight into boiling water.  But never put cold jars in hot water or hot jars in cold water.)  After they are done, remove the jars and place them on a towel covered counter to cool.  When they are cool, wipe them down so they aren't sticky and you are ready for the next batch.  Also make sure to check the jars to make sure they sealed properly.  If they didn't you can try processing in another waterbath or refridgerate and eat the contents of the jar promptly.)

This is what I do.  Please check the links provided in this post and read up on canning before starting.  Canning isn't hard but if not done right can make you very sick or even cause death.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The End Is Near!

I apologize for missing a day but the peaches had overcome me.  I am happy to say, though, that the bottom of the box is visible and I have my last 6 quarts processing as I type.  I have a few left that I will need to be creative with.  A friend told me about a wonderful peach bread recipe that I plan to investigate.  If it is any good I will share it.  Tomorrow should be the last day of peach processing.  Then it is on to Salsa!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Picking Peaches Was The Fun Part!

I love being out in the orchards picking fruit.  I just go wild.  Hence I picked over 80 lbs of peaches on Monday.  It didn't take long.  The trees were laden with fruit everywhere.  Big, ripe, juicy peaches!  Can I tell you how much I hate those 80lbs of peaches right now.  A few went towards peaches and cream for dessert but the rest are in the process of being canned.  I've canned 16 quarts and now at almost midnight I've still got 8 more quarts in a hot water bath. I canned peaches on Monday.  I've canned peaches today, Tuesday, and I will can more tomorrow.  Ohh... those evilly good peaches.  I am so thankful that God created such a wonderful fruit and I'll be so thankful for all this canned goodness this winter but right now...  I hate peaches!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Pile Of Picked Peppers

Waiting for a salsa canning session!  I guess peppers like our sandy soil.  I wish everything did.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

God's Plan For Us

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.  Ephesians 5:22-24

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Got a lot of school planning done!

The most wonderful thing about holding a garage sale and having to sit outside and mind the shop during it, is time to plan.  I managed to get 1/2 the school year planned for my 5th grade son!  It's a good feeling to be ahead of the game.

Friday, August 19, 2011

It is done...

... and I am tired.  Good bye garage sale.  I'll see you next year.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Garage Sale Day Two

About $40 more, bringing our total to $80'ish.  Yeah!  One more day!  It's actually great fun to size customers up and then make up stories in your head about what they might do with their purchases.  Like the Middle Aged Latino woman who bought an old meat cleaver.  Hmmmm...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Garage Sale Day One....

...Over!  Made about $40 dollars not bad for a Wed. selling our junk.  Now lets see how tomorrow goes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

End of Summer Rush

Ack!  Summer is almost over!  All those things I wanted to do and put off (because there was plenty of time) need to happen. Potty training the almost 3 year-old, garage sale, homeschool planning and working on starting a new cottage biz.  Oh, well... it's what I get for playing all summer and procrastinating.

1. Potty training... didn't fly yesterday... The kitchen, where I was going to train her, is the largest of the non-carpeted rooms.  It also houses the washer and dryer.  She was freaked out by the noises the machines were making and didn't want to go potty there.  Sigh.  Trying again today- without the machines going.

2.  Garage Sale... Happens tomorrow, Thursday and Friday!  Come on "BUY" if you are in the area.  Spent yesterday (instead of potty training) sorting through our piles and pricing.  Still have some more rooms to go through and purge.  Most of our stuff is small and quarter/dollar stuff.  Still anything I sell is less to cart off to Goodwill.

3. Homeschool Planning... I need to plan and organize 5 different bins of activities for Taylor, our pre-schooler.  One for each day of the week to keep her busy during "school".  My second grader is pretty much set.  She is using workbooks, except for science and geography/history. So I only need to plan some reading assignments and activities for those two subjects. Most of our time will be spent perfecting her reading which isn't too hot yet. My fifth grader is moving away from workbooks this year, except for math, to get him ready for upcoming Jr. High.  He's going to take the most planning as his Language Arts studies will be incorporated into science and history/geography.  I use the "What Your ___ Grader Needs to Know" series for those two subjects and have him do the reading and make up assignments based on that. I really like tailoring assignments to each individual student.  The books aren't "Christian World View" but I either have him skip sections that we don't agree with or we discuss the differences in world view and what the Bible says.  I also supplement these subjects with a lot of  documentaries and other learning tools from various homeschool sources and of course the library.  My Jr. Higher and my Highschooler use the Far Above Rubies curriculum by Linda Coats.  LOVE IT!  It gives them a well-rounded education while emphasizing homemaking. It also helps you document everything for transcript purposes for any college bound student.  F.A.R. is for girls but they also have Blessed is the Man for boys.  That is what my son will use when he gets there.  These programs are self-directed but I like to sit down with each child and help them choose their assignments.  I'm also going to be teaching family art, music, and nutrition plus we have family Bible time in the morning and Biblical Character training and Spanish with Dad in the evenings.  Oh, and family exercise.  Our days are full. 

4.  Cottage biz... focusing on home arts... still forming in the head.  Like my days aren't full!

All this to say... sorry that the "homesteading" focus isn't very back to the land orientated right now.  I'm focusing on my "home" and those in it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Homestead Potty Training

I've said I'm going to do it all summer and decided I can't put it off any longer.  We have been "unofficially" potty training for a couple of months.  That means when ever one of us has to use the bathroom we just take Tay in with us and have her sit on the potty chair.  But today I start Official Day One of training.

Step 1: Choose an uncarpted room to plan to stay in most of the day.
Step 2: Put a variety of toys and activities in this room to keep your child occupied.
Step 3:  Have lots of drink options and salty snacks on hand as well as rags to clean up accidents and changes of underclothing.
Step 4: Put child in panties/underwear and move potty chair into chosen room.
Step 5:  Encourage child to drink (to fill up their bladder).
Step 6: Explain the process to child and ask often if they need to sit on the chair.
Step 7:  When successful reward with M-n-M's.
Step 8: When misses come, and they will, get the child to the potty chair quickly and then clean up.

You will need to stay with your child and watch pretty close/not get distracted.  This is an all day thing.  (Or at least a few hours.)  This way gets the child to learn and recognize when they need to go and most kids only need the one day of extensive training.  There will be accidents after get distracted but the initial day of "wet underwear" they usually are well on their way.

Wish me "Good Training"!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

God's Plan For Us

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

Proverbs 31: 10-11

Saturday, August 13, 2011


No... not me, us or this blog.  We are just about out the door to help our fellow church member and missionary, Dr. Troy Manning, move into his new home.  "Mr." Troy is a translator at Bibles International, based in Grand Rapids.  He will live here in the States and travel as needed.  We are excited to get to help him set up his new home!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Getting Ready For A Garage Sale

I've been cleaning, sorting, purging the entire house.  We have too much stuff.  Garage sale time! Next week Wed.- Fri. 8am to 5pm.  Stop by if you're in the area!  You need my stuff!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Fabric and Craft Blog!

Check out my new blog.  It's going to focus on fabric and crafts and artisan type things.  STRAWBERRY MOON MARKET!

My Favorite Thing About Summer!

God is so good!  He gave us wonderful, tasty, sweet fruit!  My favorites are berries but cherries and peaches are close behind.  I love summer fruit picking and in my little area of West Michigan we have wonderful u-pick farms close by.  Some day, when we have property, I'll to be able to grow my own. (Well, we do have a small strawberry patch- our landlords are awesome- they let us garden.) But for now I have to get my fix at the u-picks.

Strawberries and raspberries get picked at Beaver Creek Farm- they are organic growers and their prices are affordable! Besides yummy things like strawberry shortcake and homemade ice cream, we also freeze berries for year-round smoothies and make homemade Jam! So much better than store bought.

It is such a good feeling of accomplishment to see these pretty little jewels sitting on my counter!

Cherries come next.  (About the time we are starting to get Zukes from the garden... see background.)
We can sweets for eating straight out of the jar and pitted sours for pies and other baking.

Blueberries at Dykstra's are next!  Their farm is just right down the road.  I can walk or bike to it.
I make some jam with the berries, but mostly freeze them for smoothies and baking.

Lastly, for us, come peaches... I'm sadly remiss of peach picking pictures... sigh... but we like to can them up for eating and also for pie making.  Picking your own and canning/freezing is a great, affordable way to keep your family in fruit for the year.

You can check for farms and u-picks in your local area here. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How A Two-Year Old Keeps Busy

I love two-year olds.  They are so fun and amazing.  If we don't end up having another child (Quite possible as I am nearing 42.) I hope my kids marry young and start having kids so I can enjoy grandbabies!

I was busy with a project the other day and left the two year old to entertain herself.  When I was done I went to see what she had been doing.  This is what I found...

 One snake put to bed...

 Flip flops stacked...

 Tigger dressed...

 Shoes on...

 Shoes off and mothering triplets...

 Shopping cart accident...

 Geography studied...

And a blow kiss for Mom!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Lewis Men

Yes, we have a t.v.  And yes we are currently subscribed to cable. (That's up for possible change.)  So what happens when the History Channel reruns season two of Top Shot, in order, all at once?  The men sit glued to it and then have to go recreate it.  Silly Boys.

They're doing this... when  perhaps...

  we should have been working on this!

And then they leave their gear out on my white comforter and heirloom quilts!  Boys!