Thursday, July 30, 2009

Zucchini Pickles

The recipe I followed for the Zucchini Pickles was pretty easy...................................picture is from last year as my camera is broken! Ack :( What a bummer and we have a birthday coming up.

2lbs Sliced Zucchini
2 medium onions (I used one large onion) sliced
1/4 cup salt
2 cups vinegar
2 cups sugar
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsps mustard seed

Place zucchini in pot and cover with water and salt, let soak for at least 2 hours (mine stayed there for a long time, until I was ready do deal with it hahaha!). Drain well when ready to use. Combine remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Pack Zucchini and Onions in sterilized jars and fill with the boiling liquid. Seal jars and process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Freedom Harvest Challenge Update #6

Oh we have been getting lots of nice things from our garden :) Swiss chard is my new favorite vegetable. Never had it til this year either! We pick just a little of something every day. We also have been enjoying fresh raw green beans. After I go for my run, I pick them and snack on them while I stretch. Now that is living!

Some days are better than others for harvests, but that is okay. The tomato's are not doing good, not at all. In fact, my whole bed of tomato's is almost dead. Nasty case of blight? I think so. Otherwise it really is from the horribly wet and cool summer we have had. I'm hoping that they will hold out long enough to harvest the fruit that is all ready there (which is actually a lot).

We have lucked out and picked up fresh local fruit at the farmers market, which is great. Raspberries are lovely, but expensive. Three dollars for a small little box. Next year we can plant our own.

Still getting lots of lettuce, but I will pull up the rest of it this week. It's getting a little bitter.

I also made my first batch of Zucchini pickles, which are a HUGE hit here. As are the little yellow pear tomato's. I picked 2 little yellow tomato's also :) See, I think whats out there, will mature as long as my plants can hold out haha!

My chickens are getting closer and closer to laying (at least I hope so). About another month or two. They are completely free range. All this worrying I did over them being out and I can't keep them in even if I tried. Well, unless you put a top on the run and everything. Which is now out of the question. They would be extremely upset haha! They like to hang out by the burning pit, lots of loose dirt to scratch in and bath in. I love my little chickens and I think they love me (or they just want food, I think it's actually the food they love). They follow me around like little shadows, it's quite cute.

Oh and these were definetely the treat of the week for us! Fresh, local apricots. They are DELICIOUS. I don't think I have ever tasted apricots like this. We are saving the seeds and really hope that we may be able to get two to grow. The kids eat them like candy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Learning History Locally

Like everyone else, we are a little short on money this year. We have been taking advantage of all the local museum's, shops, highway stops, and monuments we can. We visited a little museum that is located in my hometown. Only $5 for all of us to get in (kids were free, adults were $5), so the price was just right for a fun little trip.

There were trains to explore, lots of old buildings with antiques and very old equipment, old yearbooks (my kids LOVED finding me and my mothers senior pics haha), old firetrucks, schoolhouses, churches, and the list goes on. It's amazing the history you can take in in just your local small towns. I really like the old newspaper printing machine. It was neat to see and learn about.

We always have to get a picture of the creepy mannequins. It's a given! This guy was loafing on the job, we hitched a ride on the train and he didn't even get up. Actually I think it was a girl, that was supposed to be a boy................
Oliver snuck up on an old firetruck.............shhhhhhhhhh.......don't tell. It was clearly marked to "Stay Off".
Jack did great identifying different birds.

Ollie enjoyed running around with a brochure in his hand. He never let it go either! He would sit down every once in a while and look at it like it was pretty darn important.

And my favorite pic, the boys in the little schoolhouse. We had fun paging through the books and seeing how and what they were taught.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lard, Yummy Yummy Lard :)

A while back, I rendered about 1/3 of that huge block of frozen hog fat I have haha. If I haven't mentioned before, when you have a whole hog processed and ask for the lard...................make sure to specify that you want it divided up and not all thrown together in a massive hunk'o'fat. Just a suggestion. Otherwise you'll have something that looks like this :)

Anyways, it was simple and unsmelly, just like the tallow I rendered a while back. I don't know why everyone told me it would smell so horrid. It didn't, just a slight meaty smell. Jack thought it smelled like pepperoni when I first pulled the fat out haha.
I melted it down with a little bit of water. It took a while, it was a pretty large pot of pig fat, but it should last a while. I cooled it overnight in the fridge so I could scrap any cruddies off the bottom, don't want any of that now. Then melted it back down and transferred to mason jars. I left plenty of head space in two of them to avoid any unfortunate accidents that may occur in the freezer.
Two of them are in my fridge for any thing I may need it for. We have used them to make eggs, to grease up my cast iron skillet, for frying, and for delicious homemade tortillas. These are SO much tastier than the ones we have made with butter.
I plan on doing the rest this week (hopefully). I need to make some room in my freezer for some local pastured chickens. Now, back to catching up in the blogging world!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Freedom Harvest Challenge Update #5

Still getting lettuce and have very few radish's left in the garden. We just started getting some chard, although I think I could have let it grow larger before I picked it :) I did replant some black radish's, but I think the weather may be to warm for them to grow properly. Things look the same out there, just growing a little bigger. I think the biggest thing now, is that we have harvested a few Yellow Pear Tomato's! Mic was SO excited. He has been waiting for these since last summer haha.

He says they taste like heaven, whatever that tastes like *wink wink*. I happen to think this tastes like heaven. Man alive was it yummy. Swiss chard with a little bacon. SO good, can't wait for more!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Moths & Butterflies

Clay and I, just Clay and I!, went to a class on Moths and Butterflies this weekend. It was a lot of fun. We learned a few new things, caught some butterflies, moths, dragonflies, damselflies, and some catapillers. He was able to make a cute little bug house at the end of the day also. I think he enjoyed the wild raspberries he found the most of all though haha :) Typical man, always thinking of food!

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Have you heard of Swagbucks? It's a site where you are able to search and *win* swagbucks. You can then redeem them for gift cards, music, or other various sorts of paraphernalia. I started doing this around the February and so far have earned about $40 in amazon gift cards.

Not bad considering all I'm doing is doing what I would normally do. For example, if I need any information on Chicken Pox vaccine, I would simply do a search like you would on google or yahoo only on the swagbucks search bar. Not any extra work or clicking or anything like that.

I thought I'd pass this along because it's an easy way to get a few gift cards or freebies. I've used it for 6 months and can verify that it works and I have not had any issues with it what-so-ever and think it's actually kind of neat lol.

So click the swagbucks banner and sign up, download the bar, and maybe earn some free things. It's not hard and it actually works haha ;)

The Zoo Man

Every year, all the library's in our area have events every week and there is one that my kids look forward to with much anticipation :) The Zoo Man. He's is a local man who brings some a whole bunch of different reptiles around, is super funny to watch and listen too, and REALLY knows what he is talking about when it comes to snakes, lizards, turtles, and other things.

This year the boys really lucked out. Jack and Clay both got to hold a snake (Mic has been lucky every other year but wasn't there that day).

Oliver enjoyed it also and watched intensely and squealed with delight every time he brought out a new specimen. He did not have his gigantic snake this year, but plenty of other little critters. We learned a lot and had a lot of fun :) Another successful day of homeschooling hahahahaha.

Friday, July 10, 2009

How We've Been Learning

I haven't done a whole lot of updating on our homeschooling lately :) Mostly because, well we just have been so busy with summer. What a lame excuse, I know haha, but it is so very much the truth! Watch out! This may get long but it's just a dip in the water of some things we have done over the past 6 weeks!!

Some ways we have learned lately are....................

Art time with our cousins.
Observation of unexpected visitors.
Trial, error, and pride through gardening.Fun in the sun with friends..............

at the lake.Learning to write letters!!

Digging in the sand.

Playing games at the Library.

With bags on our heads.
Experiencing bike riding with NO training wheels!

Through music and motion.
By building Lego birthday gifts :)
Working carefully on sticker puzzles.

Visiting local places for some history. Post on this trip soon to come!

Whew, I didn't even touch a good portion of some other things we have done haha :) Jack has also been whizzing through the level 2 books (like Mouse Soup, Frog & Toad, etc etc) which is a joy for him. He recently read "No More Monsters For Me" and giggled and laughed through the whole book, took him all of 30 minutes to finish. Which is great with all the distractions there are in this house lol!

Clay, oh I'm so proud of Clay! He is starting to write letters and can almost write his name. He gets quite stuck up on the *y* though. But he's getting it, and much much sooner than the other boys did.

Anyways, there is our condensed version of homeschooling so far this summer :)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Dirt, Smores, Kittens, and Fireworks

That is about what the last week amounted too. Thankfully not all at the same time . We did some camping, got dirty, had a few campfires, ate crappy smores, and had some pretty tame fireworks. As long as your all having fun, right? I think that is what counts :)

We did a little tenting and roasted marshmallow's. I love smores, but man they are not very good for you. It was our 4th of July treat :)

Mittens is getting big :) Very friendly and playful also. I love the first pic of her :) Really shows her personality.
We lit off just a few small fireworks at our house before dark on the 4th. I don't think Oliver has ever seen fireworks.............he loved them haha! He wasn't as impressed with the big ones, but we were quite a distance away. I think he would have loved them closer up :)