Gardening Update

As you probably realize I got very little behind last week.  So my plan for this week is to catch up to the point that I am only spending about 15 minutes a day in the garden.  The first thing I wanted to tackle was the blue berries.

I ended up spending over an hour between harvesting and weeding the beds this morning (Monday).  I was rewarded with

I have frozen most of these. But the kids told me they have also really been enjoying eating them fresh off the bushes.

Every Bit Challenge
1. Half a gallon of blueberries frozen.
2  One extra meal in the freezer for next year. I also made two additional meals for this week as well.
3. I was able to make some sautéed zucchini and squash for dinner as well as I added 3 more bags of squash casserole mix to the freezer.

Not a lot but hey EVERY BIT COUNTS!


Sunday Garden Update

I had actually debated even doing an update this week, but my excitement changed my mind. We have blueberries!  And I mean I have frozen at over a pint, and we still have some for fresh eating!

In the ugggh department, we are in a battle with the squash bugs already!  I have killed at least 10 and we have thrown every single egg I could find into the chickens,   The other thing we are doing to coffee water.

I spent some time pruning tomatoes, and we are starting to see some small tomatoes. I am so very hopeful for a huge tomato harvest this year.  The pepper plants are growing and we have eaten the one and only pepper we have. I am hoping for lots more in the coming weeks.  We have green bean plants in three separate locations with several blossoms. The cucumber plants are different. Some are growing, others just appear to have stopped. I am losing hope but will continue to wait. .

Every Bit Counts Challenge
Last week was really busy and I have been struggling just to keep up.  But I was able to add a couple of things.
I cooked and froze 3 bags for squash casseroles.
I made and canned a couple of pints of strawberry syrup.
We have at least 4 gallon bags of frozen strawberries.
1 pint of frozen blueberries.

Thursday Thoughts

One of the big things happening this summer is home repair and renovation. Because I am available during the day to watch and move things, it makes sense for most of this to occur in the summer. We started a line of credit this Spring to help make this easier and more efficient.   So far we have painted the hall bathroom and hallway and installed a new shower rod. We have purchased a new cabinet and faucet with a plan to install this week.  A new toilet will be installed when the floor is replaced.  The floor in the hall, dining room, kitchen and laundry room is scheduled to be replaced on June 18th.  The goal is to repaint the kitchen and dining room prior to the flooring just for convenience sake.  We already have the paint for this but I don’t think it will happen this weekend. We also have received a quote to have our shower room fixed and expanded. This is likely going to occur in June as well. We will be having our old deck replaced as well.   We have scheduled to have the septic tank pumped on June 20th.  The next item on the list is to replace the front door.   I am not sure if there is anything else we will tackle as this is most of our “dream” items.  Except for a “garage” on the front.

I have been focused on slowly starting to build back up our freezers and pantries. I am trying to complete one item a day.  Sunday- frozen bananas (another 3#), Monday- beef broth (15 quarts and 3 pints), Tuesday and Wednesday- survived life.  My goal is to get a gallon or more of strawberries frozen tonight.
We are starting to get some squash from the garden as well. It is always a good side dish but I would also like to get some bags of squash casserole in the freezer or better, yet I will have to see if I can them!
The summer count down is officially 11 days but I have 9 workdays left!

Big Batch Cooking- Hamburger

We were able to pick up the whole cow that I had ordered on Friday evening. This was 350 pounds of meat at $8.00 a pound.  It filled our entire chest freezer!  The plan was to spend Saturday, processing as much of this meat as possible.

I am proud and grateful to say that we have accomplished this task, with the following results:
21# of canned shelf stable ground beef. These are in pint jars so approximately 1# per jar.
4 meals of Sloppy Joes canned in addition to our lunch for Saturday as well.
30 Salisbury steaks cooked and vacuum sealed in the freezer.
30 Cheddar Bacon Hamburger patties
38 Regular plain Hamburger patties!

For a total of 123 meal proteins ready for use!

Matt even started the day by cooking a big batch of French toast that we were able to freeze left-overs for future breakfast!

I am exhausted but happy with the results!

Five Things Friday

1. I officially have 3 weeks left of work. However, this is my last 5-day week as I have other things happening that require time away from work during these last three weeks.
2. Every Bit Counts- as school winds down, I am starting to work toward a total restock of our pantries and freezer.  This week, I decided to attempt one item a day.  Tuesday- gallon of Strawberries, Wednesday- 10# of mashed potatoes Thursday- 3 # of bananas frozen for smoothies.
3. We are planning to pick up our cow tomorrow.  It is 350# of meat. I am hoping to get around 100# processed this weekend.  I will keep you posted.
4. May is the most expensive month for us. We have car insurance, pool fees on top of end of the year expenses.  We also added Kendall’s birthday party to this year. I am happy to say. We have survived the month and covered all the expenses.
5. Chicken Drama- Wednesday this week, the door did not open. Lily was going to feed at 2pm and let them out.  We have been monitoring and it has not missed again so who knows what is up.   Then on Thursday evening, a dog that we have not seen before was at the chicken coop and growling at the back corner. “Lucky” the rooster managed to get all the hens in the coop before anything went wrong.  We are also struggling with keeping the coop dry with all the excess rain we have been having.


5 Things Friday- Summer is Coming

  1. I officially have 5 weeks left to finish out the school year!  I will have one holiday and two other days that I will be off during that time.  I can do it. Lily is starting her new summer semester next week.  Kendall has three weeks and a week of exams. Zach has 4 weeks.  Kendall and Zach will both be heading to camp during my last week of work.
  2. I have alot of things I want to get accomplished during the summer including re-stocking our freezer and pantries if needed. I purchased 50# of flour today to get the process started. I am hoping that by spreading out the expense we can maintain and even lower our grocery budget for the year.
  3. We plan to purchase and receive a whole cow in two weeks. This means that I have been spending some time trying to clean out and re-arrange our freezers.  Currently our chest freezer is unplugged. I am working on the freezers in the house as well as continuing to eat food from the freezer in the building. We wil be having steaks for dinner tomorrow just for that reason.
  4. I brought out a whole chicken last week. I cooked it on Thursday and even Lily said it was some of the best she has eaten.  I decided to start our stock up this weekend. I cooked chicken stock in my roaster oven Thursday night. I have been working on pressure canning it this evening. We will end up with 5 quarts and 25 pints of chicken stock!
  5. We will be having the floor measured in the kitchen and dining room this weekend. This has led to us cleaning the canning closet, kitchen pantry and most of the laundry room!   Organized stuff makes me happy!

Saving on Saturday- Just Enough Gardening

I made a big decision this week, not to plant a fall garden or even attempt a second planting of anything. The reason is that I just do not have the time or energy to attempt this year.    I have been super tired every day this week after working. I am doing well just to keep up.

But someone forgot to tell the garden!   We are continuing to get a small harvest 2 or 3 times a week.  Last Sunday, I made a pot of tomato sauce to use in our favorite Mexican rice recipe. I was able to freeze a total of 19 1/2 cup bags to use. This is just 4 short of my total of 24 I wanted for the year. I am almost positive that I will be able to get the remaining four before the end of the garden.  Last night we again harvested a medium size bowl of tomatoes.  I debated on turning these into sauce as well but decided to chop up and freeze as diced tomatoes. I have about 10 cans of diced tomatoes but these are seasoned for Italian food.  Zach pointed out that we needed diced tomatoes to make Spanish rice.  I was able to freeze 4 bags of 2 cups of diced tomatoes.  I would like to get another 8 bags in the freezer but if not we have a start and don’t need to purchase this minute.

I don’t remember if I shared about our pear harvest this year. If not or if you want to get a refresher course, check out the story here!  After canning 21 quarts of diced pears, we placed about 2 dozen in our closet that we use for cold storage and left another 20ish on the counter for fresh eating.   I noticed this week that the pears were starting to turn and needed to be used. We also discovered that some of the pears in the closet needed to be used as well.    We decided to make pear sauce/syrup.  It made 2 pints and 5 pints.  I used some on my pancakes this morning and it was good!

Another item that we are still getting from the garden is cucumbers.  I have canned 3 pints of bread and butter pickles already.   I made an “experimental” batch of refrigerator pickles, and they were a hit.   I was able to get a second jar started today. We also have some cucumbers for fresh eating as well.

Matt and Zach have been outside working on a new deck in front of our small metal building that holds the bikes.  I spent alot of time, trying to make sure we don’t waste food. I have gone through the refrigerator as well.

Today we saved by staying at home and eating at home. Remember every little bit counts!

Tuesday Thoughts

For the last two years, I have wanted to and attempted to complete the “Every Bit Counts Challenge.”  The reason that the challenge is so hard for me is that I have to return to work in August.  This year, I decided to change it up and attempt to put up 31 items during the month of August. Well I made an excellent effort but failed with only 19 items.  I am going to list anyway just so I have a record.

  1. 21 quarts of pears
  2. 5 quarts of Beef stew
  3. 4 quarts of chicken stock
  4. 2 jars of spaghetti sauce
  5. 2 meals of Chicken enchiladas
  6. 8 pints of salsa
  7. 4 Southern ground beef casseroles
  8. 8 pints of Salsa
  9. Sour dough bread
  10. Sour dough bagels
  11. 6 jars of spaghetti sauce
  12. 3 jars of spaghetti sauce (total of 26 for summer).
  13. Dried basil and cantaloupe seeds.
  14. shredded zuchnni
  15. Salsa batch for fresh eating
  16. Bread and Butter Pickles
  17. Peach Pie filing
  18. 3 frozen lunches
  19. pint of frozen blueberries.


I am very hopefully to be able to purchase tomatoes for Enchilada sauce and diced tomatoes but if not we have lots of food to eat through for the winter!

My next goal/ challenge is also food related. I wanted to reduce our grocery spending to $475 a month until December. I am going to see how this works. I have worked alot this summer to prepare food in advance so I am going to enjoy no working so hard for dinner!


Monday Musing

  • Technically I have 11 days left until I return to work. However, with our quick Florida trip to see Haley, I have 5 days at home.  I am in get everything done mood!
  • Today, I was able to make and can another 8 pints of salsa. I checked and we may need another 4 pints to make sure we can make it an entire year. But this is an awesome start!
  • I also found a recipe that I can make up and place in the freezer for the days that I just don’t have enough time and or brain width to cook. I will be making 4 bags of these tomorrow.
  • I decided that I needed a day of rest yesterday so that is exactly what I did. No cooking and no canning or baking.
  • We made our first loaf of zucchini bread today and it is AWESOME!   We are starting to get a couple of zucchini at a time from the garden. I have discovered that zucchini is a vegetable that can be planted for a fall harvest.  Our plants have been struggling all year and finally look healthy and alive so I am hopeful that we will continue to get a couple of zucchini each week until the end of October?  Who knows.
  • Cucumbers are another vegetable that I can get a second harvest from. I will be planting another round when we get back from Florida.
  • We had been watering the garden every day since our return from the beach on July 15th until last Sunday, July 30th.  One of our barrels was even empty from rain water. We have had some massive storms that past week and now one rain barrel is full and the other is 80% full.

Every Bit Counts Challenge/ Garden Update

Today I am frustrated and tired.  This entire week, I have spent 3/4 of the day in the kitchen.  It feels like that means 8 or more hours a day. I realize this is probably not the reality but that is what I am feeling.   I have really been focused on making ahead lots of things for the school year.
I also have started working with sour dough. We absolutely LOVE the sour dough bagels so I now want to have 100 bagels in the freezer.  This is alot of upfront work.  I have even had to order an additional 50 pounds of flour.

In addition, this week the tomato have started to come in.  We have been harvesting approximately 4 to 8 pounds of tomato a day. This is exciting and exactly what I had hoped for but it is also a very busy and time-consuming process.

Now to the every bit counts challenge, this is a challenge that occurs in August. The idea is that you do something every day to preserve food.   I actually have been working on this most of the summer. I am hoping to actually report on what I am doing for the month of August at least one day a week.   When I am in Florida of course I will not be doing anything.

Monday- Salsa: canned 8.5 pints and one jar of eating right now!
Tuesday- ! loaf of sour dough in the freezer and attempted bagels for the first time.
Wednesday- Double batch of spaghetti sauce- 6 bags
Thursday- Single batch of spaghetti sauce and 16 bagels in the freezer.

Off to make another batch of bagels!