Thursday, August 30, 2012

Freezing Spinach

Spinach is a wonderful green that can be used in so many ways: fresh in a salad, cooked with a little lemon juice, or in lasagna or quiches.
It is so easy to grow and germinates at 40 degrees, so it can be planted early or even grown in a cold frame in the winter.
I freeze some to have in casseroles, as a side, or other dishes throughout the winter. 
It is great for green smoothies:).
Here is how to freeze spinach...

Pick your spinach and choose fresh healthy looking leaves.
Rinse them thoroughly and discard any browned, damages leaves.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

There is a Hint of Fall in the Air...

Fall is teasing us with a cool nip in the air early morning.
The hot, dry, steamy days are gone and replaced with cool comfortable nights again.
We are almost ready for an extra blanket on the beds.

My garden is looking a little less beautiful.
The flowers are trying to hang on a little longer until first frost.
 {All garden pictures by Lily and Tim.}

Canning, drying, and freezing are in full swing.
I have been so blessed by people giving us free apricots.
I have been drying them, making apricot fruit leather, and lots of jam!
Isn't the color so pretty?

I find myself listening to Allison Krause...her music just feels Fallish to me:)

When I have a quiet moment, skimming through some of my favorite catalogs is relaxing.

Love this. I might make it.
Most of the time, I am just a looker...looking for ideas and creative inspiration.
Ideas are the best, and if you can make it....why not!

The kids are getting ready for a whole 5 days of Fair.
The boys are showing their pigs and Lily will be showing her dog, Ruth.
Look at that mud:)!
Another happy muddy pig:).
Sweet Lily and Ruth have been working hard training for their shows.
Jack likes to help, too.

Fair is such a nice end to the summer and then school starts!
We are going to ease into it this year and then try to wrap up around mid-May.
When you farm, that schedule seems to be a better fit:).
So I have been planning and sorting and cleaning...freshening everything for a new year of learning.
This year, my two oldest are taking a couple of classes at our local woodshop and agriculture.
I think it should be a fun thing for them, especially throughout the long winter months when we are a little cooped up!
We will also be taking a couple of classes at a new homeschool co-op in town this winter.
It should be a really enjoyable year!

Fall also has me planning days using my time more productively.
Summer lends itself to kind of free-flowing and now that the sun is going down a little earlier, school is ahead of us, and there is still the laundry, dishes, playtime, snuggling, clean up, outside chores, meal-time...did I mention laundry?
Yes, disciplining myself to order the day really does let me accomplish more.
I love feeling like I have used my time wisely and in a way that glorifies God.
I also have to really weed through all of the possible activities that we could do.
I tend to over-do it sometimes, and have learned that less is more....simple living lets you find more time for LIFE and connection as a family:).

I hope that you are savoring these last few days of summer before the lovely Fall weather comes!
Fall is my favorite season and I love all of the coziness it brings to our home and our hearts as we spend a little more time close together.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Freezing Green Beans

My green beans are finally ready to pick!
I LOVE them fresh out of the garden, steamed, or even raw:).
Freezing them is a fast way to enjoy them through the winter.

Here is how I do it!

First, you want to buy or pick FRESH beans that are crisp, bright green, and free of blemishes.
Avoid beans that are limp or have shriveled ends.

Place them in a sink of cool water and wash thoroughly.
 Then comes the fun...snapping!

Snap off the ends like so....{for those of you who are new to preserving:)}

Snip off the ends with your fingers.

You can leave them whole, if you prefer, but I like them smaller and snapped in half.
You could also use a paring knife, but fingers work just fine and are my opinion:).

Snapping beans is something that the whole family can do!

Once you have all of your bite sized pieces ready to go, 
bring a large pot of water to a boil and add beans.
Carefully make sure that the beans are submerged and blanche small pieces for 3 minutes, large or whole beans for 4 minutes.
Pour beans into a colander and then cool by plunging into ice water.
Drain beans again and set out to dry on a clean dish cloth.
Pack into freezer bags, label, and lay flat in freezer.
Use within 8-10 months.
I love having beans in the freezer and use them in soups, stews, casseroles, and steamed with a little butter and salt!



As Summer Comes to a Close...

As Summer winds to a sweet simmery close, I am thankful for a bit more time to relish in the long hot days before a regular routine and school starts.

Time to enjoy a drippy popsicle, pick warm raspberries off the vine,

and enjoy a crisp, fresh picked carrot from the garden.

I have just started to freeze a few things from the garden and will have a tutorial tomorrow for green beans.
Freezing is such a fast way to preserve:).

This past week, I didn't get a lot done because we have been consumed by the Taylor Bridge Fire in our area.
This has been one of the biggest fires in state history. 
Right now, they are at 40% containment and 23,000 acres still burning.
The wind is holding, but tomorrow is suppose to exceed 100 degrees and we are expecting dry lightning.
Wednesday night, they evacuated the road above us and we had our bags packed to leave at any moment.
The wind was blowing at 30 mph and the air was think with smoke.

We are so grateful that we are out of danger now, but our hearts break for those who have been evacuated...

It really makes you think about what is truly important in life...
All of this is just "stuff"...and yes, I would miss my pictures, momentos, and treasures.
But I could live without them.
Life is precious.
Our community, I am proud to say, is amazing and pulls together when there is need.
From my 90 year old neighbors hitching their horse trailer to go rescue horses and other stock, to the vets volunteering countless hours caring for animal victims at the Fairgrounds, to people donating so many food and household items they had to put a stop to it because the warehouse is overflowing...our community is a shining example of the body of Christ.
One veterinarian said, "I think I saw all 35,000 residents come offer to help this week."
Over 70 homes have been burned to the ground and countless families are displaced.
It is so sad and we continue to pray for the safety of our amazing 900 firefighters, the countless volunteers, and other homes in the line of fire.
{The smoky haze over the valley today.}

Out of all of this tragedy, though, there has been so much good!
So many people have opened their homes and farms to people in need.
It makes me proud to be a part of this community!


Friday, August 3, 2012

Full Hearts...

" We owe our children- and ourselves- our full hearts... not what is left over after a busy day..."
Sally Clarkson

Summer is in full swing and wafting in with beautiful storms and then hot, sticky weather.
My garden is finally blooming and growing with a fervor to finish strong as the days get closer to Fall.

And even though our days have been filled with work, more work, and other commitments...I am trying to slow it down, treasure these days, and give my full heart to my children and husband.
I finally ordered this book...

and oh what a doozie of a read it is!
I have been enjoying it in the mornings with a warm cup of tea and the sun just coming over the hills.

Sally Clarkson just speaks to my soul and has been giving me a fresh outlook on motherhood...

"The ultimate key to providing a nurturing environment in my home is me."

So, feeling a little overwhelmed this week by busyness...I decided a little nurturing was in order:).
We went to the lake with ALL of the cousins and then were lucky enough to keep one of them for a couple of days.
 Oh...the excitement and happiness of being together was so sweet between the kids.
Babies played in the water...and ate sand:).
 There was lots of swimming in the ice cold mountain water.
Big cousins helped the littles...

And then more time together just made for the most lovely memories.
This is a mission of bond and keep those ties blossoming between your children, and then build and create those ties between family for a strong foundation.

My heart just aches that we have to give my nephew back tomorrow!
I feel like that about all of my nephews and nieces...
they are just sweet beyond words.

I have been entrusted and blessed with these precious children and hope that the relationship I am building with them nurtures their hearts.
I want to be patient, gentle, and a Mom that reacts sensitively to them so that they will emulate these qualities in their own lives.

There really is an eternal significance to our choices...and sometimes that makes me feel anxious.
In Clarkson's book, I found this quote though, and I think it sums up the true basis of giving your full heart in motherhood:).

"The Lord would have us know that He is ultimately the one in charge of our children. He will use all of our willingness and efforts, then fill in the gaps of our inadequacies, to prepare their hearts for what He has in mind."

Wishing you a weekend of giving your full heart to your family!


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