Family Fun!

IMG_20160112_212631480I shared with you our focus on family, us and friends in the new year. We are two weeks in and so far have made some good progress. I don’t suspect all year will be this smooth as we get back into our daily routines, but every baby step counts right!

Typically when we leave our annual Florida trip we have lots and lots of flip charts and post-its on all that we are going to “do.” We seem to just love being “human doings”. We leave Florida and beeline it home because we have MUCH to do! While we were in Florida we found out that one of our daughters could visit us but it was the weekend that we were set to leave. So, we extended out stay for 2 nights and said “come on down!”. We had lots of fun eating, frolicking on the beach, playing games and doing puzzles. It was  wonderfully relaxing and joyful visit.

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When we left Florida, instead of driving straight home, we made another stop to visit our other daughters and grandson. I know this might seem logical and natural to you, but most of the time we head straight back. I mean we have lots and lots to accomplish! (I hope you are catching my sarcasm).

It was great to take the time to eat a meal (prepared wonderfully by my eldest!) and to see everyone’s smiling faces. The images don’t capture all the fun we had but that was because I kept forgetting to take pictures because we were enjoying the time so much. (not a bad thing!)

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Last night we quit working at a reasonable time and shared a nice dinner at home and some basketball followed up by reading and tea.

Tonight dinner with friends. Sunday, volunteering a bit a church.

We are still busy, keeping commitments and moving forward with things here at our home, but we are just trying to filter better and be OK with taking a break. So far no lighting has stuck and the world is still spinning so I think we are good!

How’s 2016 treating you so far?

Happy Friday!

FGU

 

 

 

 

Resolutions – Shaking Up Our Paradigm

Happy New Year and happy resolution time! I love the start of a new year (or season for that matter) and there is nothing that is more fun for me than a bunch of post it notes and flip charts to organize all that I want to accomplish. Hubby and I are really good at projects; we met on a project and have been projecting together ever since. Give us a task list and we will go, go, go!

So why mess with a good thing? I mean stuff gets done, we continue to do stuff and we have more stuff on the horizon.

Do you notice the repetitive word here?  STUFF.

Along with all this stuff comes other stuff. Mostly in the form of exhaustion, anxiousness, and the feeling that this stuff will never all get done.

I posed the question to hubby this week (before the flip charts and markers) – “what if we spend so much time doing stuff to build the dream that we are missing living the dream?” The dream is really to be married to each other and enjoy our home, family and friends. What if our doing stuff gets in the way of that?

We started thinking about this and some of our thoughts and crazy ideas about this were:

  • What if our “big rocks” became things like hubby, me, us, family, friends, church?
  • What if our projects became the “little rocks”?
  • What would happen if we put time every week for fun and relaxation regardless of how many project tasks were crossed off a list?
  • What would happen if we had people over for dinner while our kitchen was a work in progress?
  • What if we did not have self induced deadlines for our projects but instead put deadlines on when we would have dinner with someone or when we would call someone?
  • What if we laughed more?
  • What if we lightened up?

Thus birthed our 2016 resolutions. We have our focus as Hubby, Me, Us, Family, Friends and Church. Sure the projects will continue but weekly our check points will be the focuses that we have identified.

It sounds great huh? I think so. BUT these will be the hardest resolutions we have ever made. Our comfort zone is post its, tasks lists and getting stuff done (there is that word again).  Deciding to play cards, read a book, go to a movie when there is stuff that needs done will TOTALLY put us out of our comfort zone. Leaving a comfort zone, even for the greater good is hard, hard, hard! Last night at dinner we talked about how we were already nervous about this and we are not even back from vacation yet! :-)

In the end, if we can make some of these changes, what will we see? I am not fearful of stuff not getting done- that is just not in our DNA. BUT I am in hopes that we will focus more on relationships and the moment than deadlines and tasks. I think at the end of 2016, if successful we will be happier and will feel like it was the best year “ever!”

I am sharing this here for accountability. I have put this out there so you will keep tabs on me. I will keep you posted on our progress (and our slips).

Paradigms are hard to shake up. Comfort zones are hard to leave. But that is where the most growth comes right?

What about you? What are your dreams for 2016?

Happy New Year!

FGU

 

 

 

Happy New Year from Florida!

We typically visit St. Augustine, Florida after Christmas until the 2nd week of January (or so). The Festival of Lights remains up until the end of January so we just continue on in the holiday spirit. We are still listening to holiday music, looking at decorations and are taking a few vacation days to totally enjoy some down time.

Yesterday we ventured out in the opposite direction that is typical for us and we discovered a gem. The Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is a beautiful state park that houses a formal garden and lots of coquina rock. The area was once owned by a distant relative of George Washington. More recently it was owned by Owen and Louise Young; he was the former Chairman of the Board of the General Electric Co. in 1922.  Louise Owen loved gardening. Following Mr. Owen’s death she donated the lovely property to the State of Florida; she requested that the gardens  be continued.

The entire setting is so lush along side some historic buildings. It was a wonderful find for us!

We wandered through and enjoyed the holiday spirit still alive and well at the park.

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Ornaments were hung from bushes and gazebos and poinsettias were everywhere!

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We even found Christmas trees tucked away in unexpected places.

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Reindeer were seen throughout and one even posed with hubby.

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In addition to that we saw some beautiful plants and flowers (even the roses were blooming!).

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Spanish moss was draped from the trees. Some trees are dated to over 500 years old in this park!

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Cute things like this rock fish would surprise you on a turn.

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Happy New Year from both hubby and I! We hope that where ever you celebrated (or are still celebrating like us) is joyous and peaceful.

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FGU

 

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #210

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Welcome to Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop and welcome to December! Can you believe that it is December? Are you crafting, baking and fitting in some relax and enjoy time as well???

Deb is crafting! She is sharing such cute Canning Jar Lid ornaments with us today! You MUST head over and check them out!

AND congrats to Daisy of  Maple Hill Farm Blogspot! She won the note card giveaway! Way to go Daisy!

We are slimming down the Christmas decorating since we are kitchen remodeling- there are only so many hours in the day, right? We did get our tree however this week and I have a couple of Christmas favs around the house.

This weekend I am tiling in prep for the stove and that will be all the decoration I need if I am cooking up a storm on Christmas eve! Send good vibes out this way for that. :-)

Deb did mention that we are still eating fresh tomatoes here! Can you believe it? She hinted about wanting a quiche recipe that I made this week. Well, I must confess that it is not my own, but it is AMAZING and you can get it here!  I did sub out the arugula for mizuna. I have them both growing in my cold frame and picked the wrong one so I used what I had. It was sooooo good!

Take a break from your holiday prep and share what you are up to!

Thanks, as always for joining in!

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #209 (and a giveaway!)

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Welcome to Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop! Deb has a great giveaway. Adorable Note cards!

Are they not the cutest? Head over, say Hi to Deb and see how to win. It is easy, peasy!

Are you getting ready for Thanksgiving? Does your kitchen smell of freshly baked pumpkin pie? Are you planning wonderful side dishes? Do you raise your own turkey or do you get it from a farmer nearby?

Our kitchen is in prep mode, but not for Thanksgiving cooking…Do you see a fridge or stove?

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We are smack dab in the middle of our kitchen remodel and there are no appliances in sight. But sanding is going on tonight on our wood floors. They will be beautiful by the end of the weekend. IMG_20151120_173613272

Then we must leave for 7 days so they will cure. So we will head to my mom’s and dad’s for a lower key celebration and hopefully cook up a storm for Christmas!

Whatever you are doing have a blessed Thanksgiving. I hope you spend it with people you love and I hope you have much gratitude in your heart.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Now, go visit Deb, enter to win and join in the blog hop!

Roasted Tomato Sauce

I love canning tomatoes. I love trying different things with them. I have several ways that are my “tried and true”. But Roasted Tomato Sauce is a favorite. Not just because of how it tastes but because it is EASY. AND easy is my friend this year. I have short periods of time that my stove is plugged in and available since floors and walls are being done in the kitchen. This past Sunday, with no construction folks around, I took to another round of canning. One thing I made was this sauce. Super easy! Here’s how you do it!

Half your tomatoes and pop them on a cookie sheet. Roast for 25 – 30 minutes on 375. No need to peel or season. Just roast.

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Note: These are Granderos which are a type of Roma. I highly recommend adding them to your garden. They just keep going and going and going. I am in Indiana and I just picked another 25 pounds yesterday! (yes on November 2). 

When they come out you can peel them. But like I said I do this because it is easy so for me that means NO PEELING. Yipee!! I throw them in the Vitamix and puree.

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That takes a few seconds. You can see how taxing this process is. :-)

Then grab your strainer and pour that lovely sauce from the Vitamix into it. Turn your handle a few times and the seeds and remaining peels are removed. Since they have been roasted and pureed this is the easiest thing you will ever do in your strainer!

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Minimal waste. Below pic shows all the waste. AND this is not a large bowl, it is a little cereal bowl to give you some perspective. Easy and efficient. Even better huh?

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Pour the lovely sauce into a pan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or longer for a thicker sauce. I do not season this sauce. I prefer the sauce plain to season as I use it.

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It is such beautiful sauce.

I add 1/4 tsp citric acid to each jar and add the sauce. I follow my water bath directions to a T. Mine said to process 35 minutes, lid off, wait 5 and remove jars. Follow your directions for safety!

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It is pretty, easy and delicious! If you still have some tomatoes to get through I would encourage you to try this.

Do you have a favorite canning recipe?

Happy Unleashing!

FGU

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #208 and Happy Halloween!

apronFall is official with the coming of Halloween and turning back of the clocks this weekend. I will once again be tempted daily to put the jammies on at 5pm as the darkness approaches. Does the early darkness get to you too?

Deb’s been busy with company and viewing the most incredible fall landscapes out east. Be sure to stop by to see her pretty pictures.

We have been busy trying to extend our season (since it has been a slow one) and we are now reaping our summer harvest and canning in our kitchen that is really torn up. 

Looking outside today it truly looks like a fall day – clouds in the air, some trees still with colors and others have now dropped their leaves. I can tell that November is approaching. I truly love this time of year!

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Since the house is in remodel mode, my interior fall decor is not out, but I have added a couple fun things to look at right outside.

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I must try the canning the Seasoned Tomato sauce from Grow a Good Life that was shared last week. I still have ALOT of tomatoes this will get added to the repertoire.

And I am always a sucker for Mac and Cheese so I MUST try the Mac and Cheese with a kick. Thanks to My Maple Hill Farm for sharing. 

What are you up to? Halloween activities this weekend with family? Fall sightseeing like Deb? Stop by and share. We love reading!

Canning While Remodeling

Our kitchen is in major disarray. No cabinets remain except the one that is holding up the sink. No cabinets mean no counters. The stove gets moved around on a daily basis, so it could be anywhere at any given time.

With the garden slow to produce this summer I have not had to figure out how to preserve and can food. That was a little blessing in disguise, but as I shared recently, we did all that we could to extend our season and the fruits of our bounty are now here and awaiting attention.

With the assistance of a couple carts on wheels from the basement I put together a nice area to can in.

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The long cart is actually longer than my previous counter so I had an added luxury here of space. After I set up everything, I was on a roll.

First came the whole tomatoes. This is just the first round of many to come and it felt so good to be canning after a long summer’s wait. I love the clickity clack of the canner as it comes and stays on a boil.

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I am not sure if it is the late harvest or what the cause, but the tomatoes peeled beautifully this year. Better than years past. Blanching and ice water is my typical process (sometimes I roast them), but the skins literally slid off for me making the process fast. Before I knew it I was done smashing whole tomatoes into jars and they were hanging out in the canner.

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Seven pints came out looking good.

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With that under my belt and my rolling carts working so well, I decided to tackle the tomatillos. We have already had several harvests of these. For those of you that grow these you know that quantity is never an issue! They are pretty prolific. Previously I roasted them with jalapenos and garlic, pureed with some cilantro and we ate it right away and then froze a bunch too. With the canner hot and ready I decided to can this round of them. I still roasted the jalapenos, but not the tomatillos.

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I simmered onions, jalenpenos, tomatillos, red peppers and lots of seasonings. And I mean lots– I thought the cumin said TBL when it actually said tsp in the recipe. Good thing we like it!

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It turned out beautifully- I got 8 1/2 pints and 1 full pint. It smelled so fantastic. I can’t wait to dump some on top of a burrito or quesadilla or eggs.

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I still had a little time left and the canner was still hot and available. I made some terrific chunky Italian tomato sauce and threw it in as well. That produced 7 jars as well I still have a ways to go on the preserving, but I made a good dent! I froze some peppers and put the basil in the dehydrator. All in all and great day! Since my pantry is a bit cluttered right now, I cooled my jars on my currently empty shelves in the dining room area.

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The day gave me hope that even with a kitchen torn up I could figure out how to do this. When our contractor came last night he asked me if it was ok to work. He said his mom did not like movement in the house on canning days. :-)

Do you like canning? Freezing? Just eating it fresh?

Happy Unleashing!
FGU

Late Harvest

The weekend of the 17th and 18th was the first frost and hard freeze of the season. We had about 300 pounds of veggies still in the garden and we thought we would do our best to try to save stuff. We built a structure out of cages and PVC and started building.IMG_20151016_175041630

We draped with frost cloth and had our tent.

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The frost and freeze came. The plants looked rough but the veggies still looked great. We kept it covered through last week; Friday we removed it as we were expecting rain and the cold temps had left (for now).

Last night, I went out and harvested all of this!

Green tomatoes that will turn into beautiful slicers in a week or so.

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Bags of 3 kinds of lettuce, beets and radishes.

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A five gallon bucket was 1/2 filled with tomatillos. Roasted salsa verde is coming!

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Beautiful romas that will be canned today.

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Our cold frames not only survived but the stuff is so huge that we will be adding height to them this week before we need to cover them again.

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The best part was a delicious salad last night with the goodies topped with a vinaigrette and smoked mozzarella. Oh my goodness.

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IMG_20151026_200656292I am so glad we took the time to cover our stuff. The season has been an odd one and my summer garden still had work to do! We bought ourselves about 2 1/2 weeks more of harvest. We have now peaked 300 pounds of veggies picked and we have some still to go.

Are you still gardening or is your season totally at a close? Do you garden in cold frames or tunnels to extend your season?

Happy Unleashing today!

FGU

 

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #207

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Hi there and welcome to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop! I know it seems like a monthly hop instead of a weekly but Deb and I have been busy just like ya’ll with fall chores and wrapping up summer stuff. We rushed to cover tomatoes last week before the hard freeze and we were successful in saving them and buying ourselves another 10 days on the vine for them!

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Yesterday was my birthday and look at this lovely place hubby took me to for lunch.

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It is Stream Cliff Herb Farm and Winery. Their history dates back to 1821. They are Indiana’s oldest herb farm.

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It was beautiful, peaceful and oh so yummy. Best news is that it is only about 20 minutes from us so we will frequent again (and again…).

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The added bonus was their Bourbon Bread Pudding! We split it after lunch and we pretty much licked the bowl clean. It was amazing!

Later hubby made me spaghetti and meatballs, baked a cake and we just hung out at home (which was wonderful!)

Deb has been busy cooking up some fall fare. Her Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash with Craisins looks amazing. Some of our squash will finds its way to this! Be sure to visit and check it out! 

What have you been doing to enjoy fall, your kitchen or your garden? What things have to go on to prep for the colder months ahead?

Deb and I are looking forward to connecting again here this week. Thanks for stopping!