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!


Day In The Life

Today, I spent the entire day at home. Yay this is one of the things I like most about the summer. Unfortunately, today did not include reading a book or watching television or even enjoying some much-needed downtime.

This morning, I had already planned to make breakfast bowls. Yesterday, I had made gravy biscuits, saving some for today.  I ended up using 16 eggs and I found “bo rounds” which made these bowls even better!  Next up I spent about an hour in the garden, wedding and harvesting.  I sent a 5-gallon bucket to the chickens!

I have harvested 8 pounds of tomatoes in the last 3 days, so I started a huge crockpot of spaghetti sauce. The current plan is to make a couple of “million-dollar spaghetti pies” tomorrow and bag the rest for the freezer.  Matt made potato salad, while I made a squash casserole and a huge pot of chill.   Last night we had purchased a chicken from Costco so the squash casserole and potato salad along with a jar of green beans made an awesome lunch.  The chili used four pounds of ground beef that Matt cooked on the Blackstone along with supper last night.

I pressure canned 8 2oz jars, 4 half pints and one quart of chill for future use. After lunch I tossed the chicken bones and carcass was tossed in the insta pot with water and placed on low using the slow cooker function. So far I have pressure canned 8 pints of chicken stock with the insta pot cooking for another 12 hours.

I did discover that my food processor is broken. We dug out the kitchen aid attachment and shredded the LARGE zucchini for making a loaf of zucchini bread later in the week.

Matt was in charge of cleaning the front and back of the older refrigerator and also used his new shop vac to drain the water from the AC system.  I was in charge of deep cleaning the deep fyer.

Matt made a regular load of bread and I have a loaf of sour dough to finish tonight. Zach decided to deep clean so that also meant I placed 17 nerf guns, a box of legos and a huge hot wheel track on Facebook to sell.

I am tired!


Summer Goals

I wanted to be able to share and remember what I spent my summer doing. I feel like the last several years have been a bust. 2022 was the Summer of being sick and Haley’s wedding. Between my car breaking down and my surgery the summer was not alot of fun!  2021- was a year of trying to catch up. Things had not returned to “normal” yet from COVID and it was just different.  2020- COVID.

I had put in my mind several goals for the summer and now that we are almost 2 full weeks in, I am going to share with you.  This are in addition to my regular monthly goals.

  1. Get 100 dinner meals and an assortment of other food items prepared for simple cook and eat meals. This is not a new concept for me as I usually have lots of items in my freezer to use but I want something easy and really non-thinking.
    I am proud to say that I am making steady progress on this goal. I have 4 Taco rice casseroles, and 3 pizza crust in the freezer. I also canned 22 pints  of green beans and 16 pints of black beans.  I purchased meat on sale and have 3 meals of pork chops and 2 meals of grilled chicken as well.   This morning I put 6 “boxes” of brownie mix in the pantry for easy desserts as well.  I honestly under-estimated the time it would take me to work on this goal. First, each new recipe has to be tested.  This adds at least one extra day to the process and second my family is picky. They like what they like and to find something that all 5 agree to is getting harder and harder.  I am starting to think the hardest part about this goal is finding 20 recipes that we all agree on!
  2. Organize the office and shred any paperwork that is no longer current and relevant.
    We are making progress toward this goal as well.  I have actually cleaned and shredded two hanging file folders in addition to shredding church paperwork from 2017-2019.  An added benefit is that we are using the shredded paper to line our chicken coop. The paper adds an extra layer which is allowing the chickens not to walk in mud continually.  In the fall, my plan is to remove the layer and place in our garden beds as free fertilizer.
  3. Redo our master spreadsheet.   No progress
  4. Organize and delete pictures from my phone in order to free up space. I must make sure that I have the pictures on my Ipad first.  I would also like to order several additional photo books once I get the pictures organized.
    Slow progress as I am working to delete first pictures that are not sentimental such as garden pictures and other documents. The next step is to actually compare and delete pictures.
  5. Earn a $50 gift card from Fetch. This basically means I need to scan each of my receipts all summer long one every 24 hours.
    I currently have 22,000 out of 53,000 I need.

Garden Update/ Tuesday Thoughts

This past weekend ended up being both busy and fun!  We had a swim meet on Saturday which really wiped us out for the rest of the day.
On Sunday, after church we spent some much-needed relaxing time at the pool!
Monday, I ran around the world and back.  I did manage to pick up half a bushel of green beans from the farm stand I LOVE!

All of this meant that I really have not had time to take pictures to post with the update.  But this morning, I headed out to do a little bit of garden work and take pictures but wait of course my phone is dead!

I was SUPER excited to be able to actually harvest several things this morning!  So excited I had Kendall take a picture to share!

Chives, lettuce, a handful of green beans, 2 squash, 2 cucumbers, a zucchini and snap peas!   It is small but at least we are getting things from the garden!

The other garden news is not nearly as exciting or happy!  We found 2 tomato worms on Sunday. Unfortunately, it was after they had stripped at least 2 plants of the leaves and consumed half of my biggest tomato.  We fed them to the chickens as protein!  I have been keeping a watch on the plants to make sure there are no more and so far so good.   Our tomato plants are now taller than me and we are starting to see little tomatoes forming!   I really want a good harvest this year but I am going to be contend with what we are given at least that is what I keep telling myself.

Final thought- One of my big goals this summer is to have a year’s supply of food on hand for the next school year. I want to complete this as doing a little each day as long as possible.   That is actually my reason for purchasing the green beans.  Zach and Kendall have helped with snapping the beans and we have canned 23 pints of green beans. This is one jar every two weeks which is likely what we will use. I am going to use our home grown beans to freeze to make fried beans.

5 Things Friday

  1. This is my first full week of summer break. Unfortunately we have spent more time than usual inside due to the weather.  Kendall said it best today after we spent some time at the pool. “It finally feels like summer.”
  2. I don’t know if I mentioned it recently, but I really LOVE my Electric Pressure Canner.  This is so simple and easy to use. Canning was not something I would have considered even two years ago but this summer, I want to can at least once a week.  I love the convivence of just opening a jar for broth and soups. I can’t wait to can spaghetti sauce and salsa! This week I used it to put away 4 quarts, 7 pints and 9 half pints of chicken broth.
  3. The rain, along with worm casting and blood meal have a HUGE difference in the garden. I can’t wait to post pictures of the changes this week!!
  4. The swim meet that was supposed to occur on Tuesday will be bright and early tomorrow morning.  I am excited to watch all three kids compete. In other swimming news, this afternoon Braxton was able to swim without a float!
  5. In not so great news, I have overspent the grocery budget!

Five Things Friday

  1. Hurricane Ian is upon us in North Carolina. This is a huge storm and we have actually been experiencing some of the wind and rain for the past 24 hours. Luckily, we have not lost electricity or internet yet (9pm).
  2. Both the school districts and the Community college all declared remote learning days today.  Everyone was able to spend time working on school and work assignments. I am actually excited to have the time to get my paperwork caught up!
  3. I am loving my new electric canner. I have been able to do a bath of pear sauce, a batch of kidney beans, a batch of navy beans and a batch of mix kidney and navy beans.  I had one can not to seal!  This is awesome. I am planning to make some split pea soup next.  My goal is to get really comfortable with the canner, start to empty out the freezers a little so that next year, the canner will be used for all my spaghetti sauce.
  4. Because I was at home, I actually prepared three meals today. Bacon and biscuits for breakfast, pigs in a blanket for lunch and homemade tomato soup for dinner. Kendall made a pumpkin cake which with grilled cheese was dinner to remember.  I tripled the recipe for the tomato soup, so we have lots for future use!
  5. Because of the storm we decided to leave the chickens in the coop today.  I purchased a second feeder. Zach has been to check on them twice.  Braxton also decided to spend the night.  This is the first time he has asked to spend the night so we are all so excited!

Saving On Saturday

Today was a very rainy and dreary day.  The perfect time to catch up on some meal preparation and food preservation.

  • Matt and I took 2 packages of cube steak from our previous cow purchase, breaded and deep fried them. They will be used for steak biscuits for breakfast for the next 6 months or so.
  • I went ahead and meal prepped for the week. Stuffed green peppers, grilled chicken and bacon cheddar burgers are all ready to go.
  • Sorted through and combined items in the freezers in the house as well as the chest freezer. The plan is to purchase as little as possible over the next 8 months and use the food we have in our freezers and pantry.
  • Soaked and cooked a bag of black beans that Matt can use in his chill. (We have 2 cans of beans so this should last awhile.
  • Packaged up gravy from breakfast into can size bags for use with breakfast pizza. I purchased a single can of gravy to use and it was $2.09…. our breakfast left-overs saved us $5.

We debated but decided against turning off the a/c. The humidity is still really high, and it feels sticky outside.  I will continue to watch the weather and as soon as we are below 80 degrees consistently, we will open the windows.

The kids all caught up on laundry, which means less stress for me.

Remember it is the small things that add up!

This is the first full week of school for all the kids and my second week of work. Last week seemed to work well and we managed to eat at home every night!  So we are doing a repeat with different food. I am thinking that some of our weeks will start to look very similar due to use the food we already have on hand. I have even thought about going back a couple of years and doing repeat menu plan.  Just might be fun to see if our taste and preferences have changed.

Breakfast- Saturday-BLT. Sunday- Made to order omelets Monday- Homemade everything bagels Tuesday- Zucchini bread Wednesday Thursday and Friday- find it oatmeal, cereal and milk, French toast sticks, bagels, breakfast burritos and pancakes.

Lunch- Saturday-leftovers Sunday-Christos   Monday-left-over Tuesday- chicken salad Wednesday- left-overs Thursday- Summer lunch, Friday-eat out.

Dinner- Saturday-Chips and dips Sunday- Youth group dinner Monday-country style steak, mashed potatoes, fried squash and green beans Tuesday Taco Pasta Wednesday- Chicken fried rice Thursday- Hamburgers and FF Friday- Genghis grill for Zach’s birthday

Every Bit Counts Challenge- It made sense for me to include this with Menu planning as they are both food related. Things are busy and crazy, but I did manage to get a couple of things done. This is likely the last week of preservation as most things are slowing way done. The goal is to continue to harvest and use items as we can!
Tuesday August 23rd frozen bananas
Wednesday August 24th Salas
Thursday August 25th- shredded zucchini
Friday August 26th-
Saturday Augst 27th-
Sunday August 28th-Dinners prepared and tomato soup for lunches
Monday August 29th- Froze a gallon bag of tomatoes. .

Thursday Thoughts

  • The chickens have officially moved outside!  We made the move yesterday. We did install a temporary door that has to be manually opened and closed. I actually went out at 6:28am this morning to open the door. Lily also went down and helped them exit the coop this morning.   We did decide to order and install an automatic door that should arrive in the next couple of weeks.  This will allow us to open and close the door remotely once the chickens have learned to go into the coop each night.  The expense of the chicken has finished increasing, I hope. I did use a gift card to order the outdoor chicken feeder. I spent $32 on a watering container and the door was $99.   Again, this confirms that these are pets.
  • Today is my last day of summer break.  I did a couple of errands, including having the Tahoe cleaned and attempted to mow the yard but managed to get the mower stuck. We all have haircuts this evening as well.
  • My plan is to make a couple of batches of stuffed peppers today. One for next week and one will be placed in the freezer for future use. I also want to try a batch of tomato soup just to see if it will turn out.  I also have a couple of new recipes for dinner as well. Sounds like a lot of cooking so we will see how it goes.  Yesterday after cooking most of the summer, I ordered pizza for the first time all summer.
  • I am actually kind of excited to go back to work and get in a regular routine again!