Sunday, July 31, 2011


I mentioned it before, but I can things from our garden as well as things I get good deals on locally.  Sometimes those deals are things like sweet corn from the local farmers who set up stands by their fields, sometimes it's things I buy in a local grocer that they have marked down for quick sale.  I don't even try to grow corn here because I know they do it well and I can buy it reasonably priced.

The most recent thing I've canned this week has been sweet zucchini relish.  I'd never made it before but I was told it is sweet enough that it's used on hot dogs for kids with great success.  I have kids who love hot dogs, so I'm in!

It's a great way to use up those big zucchini you missed in the garden.  Oops!

So I grated it up in the food processor.  Side note, I just bought one of these about two weeks ago.  Before I did all my grating by hand.  WHAT WAS I THINKING?  This is SO much easier.  I just bought a medium sized one, it holds eight cups, I think, and it works just fine.  Cost me less than $30.

OK, so shredded zucchini in a bowl with salt and shredded onions overnight in the fridge.

Let me tell you, this smelled DIVINE the next morning and I tried it and would have seriously eaten it as slaw just like it was.  Of course, I love onions, so keep that in mind.  It's for the kids, though, right?  So on we go. You drain it and squeeze/pat/squish/flatten the water out of it and add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often.  After that you can it by using the water bath method for 15 minutes.

You get five to six jars of this.

We haven't opened a jar yet but my oldest tried a bit that was left after packing the jars and deemed it wonderful.

One thing I like about canning your own food is that you can try things like this.  You are not going to find sweet zucchini relish in your regular grocery store.  I also like that I know exactly what is in there and there are no added preservatives or things to make it set up a certain way or added colors and I know the zucchini was grown without pesticides because I grew them.

Being prepared (and saving money)

We do what we can to save money and for our family, one area that I can make the most difference in, budget-wise, is food.  I try to grow a garden every year.  Some years we are moving during gardening time or we live where a garden isn't allowed, so I try to grow things in containers during those times.  Every little bit counts.  Plus, homegrown food just tastes SO much better than the produce you buy at the store that was picked well before it was ripe so they could ship it across the country to you before it rotted.  My husband hunts and we all love to fish, so we supplement our meat, as well.  I can, freeze and dry things to save them for later consumption.

If you've seen the news at all recently, you've seen the mess we are in with the country's finances.  You've also likely seen headlines saying that military members, other government workers, social security recipients, etc., are all wondering if, and if so, when, they will get paid if they can't agree in Washington.  That's certainly true, we are all wondering that and you know someone has the answer, but fear is a powerful motivator.  If they were to assure certain groups  that their money WILL come, well, there wouldn't be the easier agreement to maybe accept some cuts, changes or spending that you wouldn't normally consider.  Hey, NO ONE wants to be considered the guy/gal that kept the (military/retirees/etc.) from getting paid, right?

We have an emergency fund right now that will allow us to be OK, with very careful monitoring of spending, for a while but a lot of people are not in this position because they've wiped out their fund because of a recent emergency or job loss or they didn't have an emergency fund to begin with.

No matter what *side of the fence* you sit on, let's all hope that those folks up there can work TOGETHER and get this mess figured out.  Sooner rather than later.

While we wait on that, let's talk about some ways we save money and maybe you can tell me what you do and we'll all learn some new things.  :)

It's a mystery, Scooby Doo!

Walked out the door to go to church this morning and there are rocks ALL OVER my cabbages that are in one side of the flower bed, on the side of the cement steps.  I *had* three cabbages in that side.  Something completely demolished one of them digging and covered up a second one.

Me, being the sane and logical (ha) person I am, grabbed a piece of wood and used my foot and hand and uncovered (mostly) the second cabbage.  I also piled all the rocks back in the hole, figuring if something was in there, it served it right for messing with my cabbages.  Do Not Mess With My Cabbages!  

The area to the left of the stick is where the hole was and you can see the rocks it dug up (sorry, I did all of this before I thought to grab the camera) and spread everywhere.

I didn't know if anything was still in there, but at least I hoped to have saved the second cabbage.
Came home from church to find this.  This is the OTHER side of the concrete steps.

So, I'm guessing it WAS in the hole when I covered it up, figured out it couldn't go back out that way, so dug a new hole on the other side to get out.

I want to know what's making the mess.  What's the best way to find out?  Why, look in the hole, I guess.  My face won't fit in the hole.  I like my kids and don't want their faces to get eaten off, so, using this brilliant mind of mine I decide to stick the camera in there and take some pictures.

Here are the pictures I got.  You'll have to imagine the muttered comments that went along with them: Please don't bite me, please don't bite me, please don't bite me.

Whatever it was seems to have decided to leave for the time being.  I'm going to cover the hole back up and hope it stays gone, having decided I'm too much of a pain in the butt to deal with.  If not, we'll have to escalate things.  

We saw two rabbits along the back fence line yesterday.  So maybe that's what it was?  Guess time will (maybe) tell.

OK, just realized the dates on the pictures are WAY wrong.  Must have reset itself somehow when I changed batteries and I didn't notice.  Sorry!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

What do you get?

What do you get if you have two kids riding their bikes and their father decides to get his bike out and sneak out there and ride with them giving them a hard time about their 'driving' skills?

Can you see that dent?  That's from hubby's shoulder.  Don't worry, he's fine and the truck is for working, so we use the heck out of it and don't care about the small dent, but that sure made me laugh when I heard him SMACK into the truck right after picking on the kids about their skills!  He got to laughing and playing and wasn't watching where he was going.

What a lovely morning!

Looked outside from the kitchen and saw this:

There was a big metal pipe in the ground in the back at the edge of the driveway and to the right was the pipe stand for the basketball hoop.  We planted sunflower seeds in between them and they are finally starting to open!

Here it is from the font.

Looks like #2 will be open soon!

My garden loves me

The kids thought these tomatoes were the BEST.

The first two look like they grew together kissing, as I was told by the kids.
The second is because our garden loves us.

Lots to catch up on

Sorry, life got in the way of computer time for a few days there.  I have been taking some pictures and making notes of things to share with you, though.

So, let me catch you up and fill you in.  I grew up a country girl.  Now, we didn't have much land, I grew up on about 10 acres my parents owned and the 100s of acres that, at that time, surrounded the place and was unoccupied.  Spent a lot of time in the woods, camping with our extended family and doing all those chores that come with country life.  A lot of those chores revolved around feeding the family.  Gardening, tending the animals, butchering, canning, all those things that you can't take for granted if you want to eat in the lean winter months.

Fast forward several (OK, SEVERAL several) years and I find myself wanting to get back to those roots more and more.  We own a home back in Texas (well, the bank owns it, but you know how that goes) on almost two acres and we have lots of plans for it when we get back there in (hopefully) a couple of years.

Right now we find ourselves in a rent house and we do what we can to insure good food for our family.  It helps that doing this stuff saves money, too!  Sure you invest some time, but it's a much better thing to do with my time than watching videos or something.

Having given you that information, let me start where I left off.  Sunday I drug my sorry rear end out to the garden to see what was ripe.  Felt like crud, but it needed to be done.  My garden here is small.  No, really, it is.

I haven't measured it but I have four tomato plants, 2 jalapenos, a bell pepper, two eggplants, five zucchini, several green pea plants (well, I did, they died back and I pulled them already), two cages covered with green bean plants (also about ready to be pulled), 3 melons (honeydew and cantaloupe), 5 or 6 cucumber vines and onions planted around the edges.  I planted things close together (too close hubby says, lol) and basically crammed a lot in a small place because the owner of this house said I could have a garden in the back yard as long as I only used the space she used to use, so that set my space limitation.  I did have some lettuce and spinach planted in the old flower beds by the back porch but it got too hot and they started to bolt so I pulled them.  I have five cabbages in there, too, and so far they are doing OK except for some minor bug damage.

Here is what I got from the garden Sunday

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Not the way I wanted to spend my weekend

Well, today is day two of horrible stomach cramps.  Youngest son and I picked up a stomach *thing* somewhere and this is day two.  Not queasy, thank goodness, just VERY crampy and the potty breaks are fairly frequent.  Slept with a heating pad last night and I guess I slept curled up or something because this morning I awoke to not only cranks, but my back aching, lol.  Double the fun.

We didn't go to church, I don't want to risk passing it around plus I know I'd be in and out of the service, so I'll just pick up a CD of the sermon (small church but we record every service and make a few copies for anyone who had to miss) later on this week and catch up.

I'm not anti-doctor or anti-medication, but I firmly believe that with stuff like this it's best to just let it run it's course as long as no one is getting dehydrated or anything like that.  So far the little one is still playing and having fun, so we'll leave it alone and hope that today is the last day and that tomorrow is better.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

No more excuses

OK, I'm putting it out there.  I need to lose weight.  A lot of weight.  I don't mean, oh, gee, I need to lose a whole 10 pounds.......I mean I need to lose more than 50 pounds.  

There, I said it.  Now I'm not the only one who knows that number.

Here is my gift to myself to work towards that number.

I bought it used, so I have to download the manual but I have figured out how to manually set the incline and speed, so have used it that way for right now.  Hopefully once I get the manual the preset workouts won't kill me.

Beans are about done

This heat wave is killing off my garden quickly.  :(  I did can some green beans recently and we have gotten one more batch out of there for a fresh meal, but I think I'll have to pull the plants in the next week sometime.

Here are the beans fresh picked

Just because I think it's so neat and I want to share it.  Here is the stove that I use to run my pressure canner.  It's in our garage.  The lady that had this house built loved to can (and there is an electric flat top in the kitchen) so she had this installed in the garage with a working sink to the right of it.  I LOVE IT and am especially grateful that she left it in place.

Cleaned and ready to pack in jars:

Packed in jars with the salt added:

In jars with salt and water added and ready to go in canner

I forgot to take a picture of them in the canner and afterwards, sorry.

Overrun with zucchini?

If you've ever grown zucchini, you know how easily it can take over your life.  We've eaten it fried, grilled, make zucchini bread, eaten it in scrambled eggs.  Heck, I took SIX loaves of zucchini bread to the last pot luck we went to!  Then I heard of something different you can do with it.

Zucchini candy

Yes, really.

I looked up the instructions and it's very easy.  It uses up a lot of zucchini at once, too.

Here's what you do:

You need 10 cups of peeled and cut up zucchini.  You can do them in small squares (1/2 inch at widest point, it said, but some of mine were slightly bigger than that) or long 'worm' shapes.  You do not want to use the part with the seeds, add that to your worm bin or compost pile.

In a big pot you mix 3 cups of water, 2 packages of unsweetened KoolAid (we used black cherry because several places I read all said it was the best) and 2 1/2 cups of sugar.  Heat the mixture until it all of the sugar is incorporated and then add the zucchini.  Bring it to a boil them take it down to a simmer and simmer it for 25 minutes.  Drain the zucchini and then put it on your dehydrator trays and dry at 125 degrees for about 14 hours.  Turn them over and dry them for another four hours and you're done.

Ten cups of zucchini is a lot when you start but when you are done they will all fit in a quart sized zip top bag.  It will be FULL, but they will all fit.  The kiddos really like them, too!

Here is a picture of them in the strainer cooling off enough so I can handle them to get them on the trays:

Here is what they look like on the trays, before we started drying them.

This is what they looked like once they were done.  

The kids really like them, which is a big plus.  They aren't as chewy/gummy as gummy worms, for example, but I like that about them.  I think next time I'm going to try adding an extra packet of Koolaid as I'd like the flavor to be more pronounced, just my taste preference, though.  

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I'm Tina.  I've been married to the military for over 15 years.  My husband and I have three boys (and one cat).  My husband's grandmother lives with us, too, and has for the past few years.  We're country people at heart and hope to get back to our own place and live our lives in the country after he retires from the military but for now, we do what we can wherever we're planted by the Army.  :)