Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Gardening Frenzy

Every spring I get the gardening bug, but it seems this year is different, I want to do EVERYTHING! From starting the seeds in my greenhouse, to raised beds, to canning, I'm going all out.
The plan:

It's roughly a 600 sq. ft. garden (Well, maybe. I'm really bad at math). I used to have about 18- 4' squares with old fence boards for 1' wide walkways. It was nice at first, but by mid summer the garden would be so overgrown I couldn't get into it anymore (thus the new 3' walkways). And the fence boards were rotting out with weeds growing in the cracks, not to mention the snakes, lizards, slugs and bugs which lived under them, **shiver**. That's why I like the NEW Square Foot Gardening book (see my bookshelf to the right). It's very much streamlined having been written about 20 years after the first book. I just got the outer perimeter beds done yesterday (yay!).

Then I transplanted my asparagus to a new, cooler place in the garden. I'm hardening off my peas now so I can plant them too, and I'm going to have to mercilessly prune back my monster rosemary if it wants to stay.

In other news, my strawberries are blooming,

my hen is setting on a batch of eggs,

the grapevine is coming to life,

the roses are blooming,

the goat is in heat,

the massive compost pile needs to be tamed,

and I found a tulip blooming at church that looks exactly like my tattoo!

All in all, lots of work to be done, but lots to look forward to and enjoy in the mean time. But today, I'm taking the day off!


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Marmalade Madness

Ok, so Rachel has two enormous grapefruit trees in her backyard but she doesn't fancy grapefruits. When Angela (no, she hasn't posted anything new since the New Year!), and I heard this we had the same thought, grapefruit marmalade!
We said to each other, "Let's get all 10 of our children together and make marmalade!" So I sent my kids across the street to Rachel's house with the red wagon and a ladder to pick all the grapefruits they could reach. We only got a laundry basket full since it was the end of grapefruit season and most had fallen off the tree and rotted. I was a little worried at first that we wouldn't have enough to justify the work of canning, though I was to find out later that we had PLENTY.

Well, Marmalade Day arrived and we loaded up the car with grapefruits, canning supplies, and lunch and headed to Angela's house. She has 7 acres for the kids to run wild in while I live in the middle of town.
Then we settled down to compare recipes. Angela pulled a recipe from a book she has, Ball Blue Book of Preserving,

and I found one on the internet, (sorry, I don't remember where). We compared notes and found the recipes very similar, except hers actually gave the measurements for the pulp, water, sugar mixture, (which I don't have on me at the moment) mine is:
2 large grapefruits,
1 large lemon, (Angela's didn't call for lemons)
2 cups water
4 cups granulated sugar

First we scrubbed all the dirt off the grapefruits since you use the peel for marmalade.

Then we peeled the rind off and cut off as much of the pith as we could. This took like 2 1/2 - 3 hours.

Then we shredded the peel in the food processor, chopped the pulp, and combined the two.

Then came time to combine the rind/pulp mixture and the water together. I let Angela do the math, she's good at it.

Then we set it to boil for 10 minutes.

After that Angela removed it from the heat and set it aside to cool overnight. Do you see that my fears that we wouldn't have enough grapefruits were totally unfounded? I think we actually used only one of these bowls and froze the rest since we were running out of enthuasiasm for the whole project.

By then it was time to make dinner for our families and have our church prayer meeting. Angela and Kevin graciously invited us to do it at their house since my house was disgustingly dirty and I hadn't had time to clean it that day. Also, their baby Sammy wasn't feeling well and Angela wanted to hear Kevin do his devotion on prayer (awesome!), which she wouldn't have been able to do if prayer meeting was at my house since she'd have to stay home with Sammy.

So the next day we decended on their house again to finish the whole marmalade process. It was time to add the sugar and boil it till it reached 118 degrees, which took several hours and lots of stirring to accomplish (Thank you Jacob!).

Then it was FINALLY time to ladle the marmalade into the jars. Angela's good at that too.

I set my jars upside down to heat seal since I'm lazy and would like to skip the water bath process if I could, I think they sealed fine. Angela wanted to be on the safe side and procees hers. She's thinks things through better than I do. At this point we left all the kids at home and went out to dinner with our husbands. (Thank you so much Ashley for watching all the kids!)
So here's my portion of the finished product, I think it'll last a while.

But do you see something odd at the bottom of the jars? Here's a close-up:

the marmalade set a little too well, as in the consistency of like, maybe, cement? I'ts still like this 2 days later!

But mmmmm..... it is pretty yummy, though a little bitter despite all the sugar we added! I like it on Moriah's cornbread with butter and a little sugar sprinkled over the top!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Better Late Than Never

I know ya'll have been on the edge of your seats since we've gotten back, waiting to hear about all the excitement. So here's some pics of our vacation to Southern California, (Orange County). We try to go every year to visit Grammie and Grumpy, and so Patrick can go to the Shepherd's conference. It's about a 9 hour drive normally, 10 if we have to stop frequently for the kids to go potty, or 8 if we drive at night and drug the kids with Dramamine (our preferred method).

First we went to the La Brea Tar Pits. It was a lot of fun and we got to see some of the bones they recently found.


Prehistoric Horse (see happy Faith?)


Dire Wolves (lots of them)

Trying to sit on the Giant Sloth


Cute Pic

Then we went to the beach.

It was a little nippy, but still swimable.

We had a couple birthdays (Moriah's now 12, and Lily's now 7), visited with Mammy, and did some shopping too.

On our way back home we stopped to visit our friends the Carrells for a couple days.

We had so much fun but were completely exhausted when we got home!

Monday, March 23, 2009

At the Well, My Husband

"And here is your assignment. Use your blog as a place to thank God publicly for your husband (make sure you are sensitive and do not share things that might embarrass him inadvertently). It should be fun to read all of the great lists!"-Sherry, At the Well

I found this awesome blog and want to participate in their weekly assignments. This one seemed like a great place to start seeing as how I don't take the time to appreciate my husband enough.

1. He's the handsomest man I've ever seen! (It's an old pic, but my favorite :))
2. He LOVES God more than anything.
3. He LOVES his family.
4. He cheerfully gets up every morning to go to work to provide for us.
5. He'd take a 3rd or 4th job before he'd let me work outside of the home, (that's a GOOD thing!)
6. He lives for playing and having fun.

7. He's a great preacher, I learn a lot from him.
8. He's always going out of his way to make sure I'm happy.
9. We have the best marriage EVER, (almost 13 years!)
10. He doesn't nag me to keep the house or the kids clean.

I know there's more, but that list encompasses pretty much everything, and I don't want to make anyone jealous!