The End of Summer

So, I have to admit I have been in a ‘blogging funk’ lately. I was enjoying the last little bit of summer and couldn’t find the time or energy to blog. I usually make it down to the garden, but that’s as far as I get.

I ended my summer with a trip to the Jigger Shop in Mt. Gretna, PA. If you have never been there, they have some of the best nature trails and ice cream.  It is also peaceful to walk around town.  I just wanted to forget about school starting and enjoy the last weekend. How often do we forget to have fun as adults?!?!  Besides, when is the last time you saw a merry-go-round and a seesaw at a playground? We couldn’t resist!  I know I haven’t laughed that hard in awhile. I challenge you to do something fun this weekend! Laugh a little!

(Don’t ask me who the kid is on the right of the seesaw; our niece made a friend).

They couldn’t bounce themselves, so Tony jumped on to help.

Tony had a stomach full of ice cream. 😦 He did not feel well after this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This summer, my husband and I have been on a quest to get completely out of debt (aside from our mortgage). We are almost there and then we can start paying down our mortgage. So I have resorted to extreme measures, like making my own laundry detergent. In case you are wondering, it actually works. I tested it on my husband’s garage clothes after a 95 degree day. Gross. Yes, the clothes were soaking wet with sweat and covered in grease, fiberglass dust, and dirt.   So it works AND it comes out to 1 penny per load!!  Here is the recipe I used.

Let’s not forget about canning. This is also how I intend to save us some money.  I am most proud of my grape jelly.

Yes, I actually made it from grapes!

It was actually pretty easy with the right tools. The recipe I used came from : http://pickyourown.org/grapejelly.htm This website has everything from freezing to canning to storing food. I love it!

The best part is I know exactly what is going into my jelly. No HFCS!

Once school started, I lost all of my tomato plants. I am not exactly surprised because I was completely distracted.  I had been blanching and freezing tomatoes all summer, so I wasn’t too upset.  I still had tomatoes to make my own sauce. I think it turned out great!  http://www.pickyourown.org/spaghettisauce.htm

I don’t know how old this equipment is, but I’m glad it takes care of seeds and skins… It saved me a few steps!

Last weekend I had a few hours to actually work in the garden. Thank God for weekends.
I picked peppers… A LOT of peppers.

Peppers and a few herbs

I love not buying vegetables for my lunch salads!! Not only is it organic, but it is CHEAP! Besides gardening, I also love spending time with the dogs. I always try to bring the dogs down to the garden while I’m working. Since school has started, they do not get a lot of attention. Bailey helped me clean up the tomatoes that fell when I pulled out the plants and Tank…well…he followed me around panting.


Hopefully I will find time to work in the garden this weekend. 🙂

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Canning Sweet Pickles

Since I began eating healthy, I have avoided High Fructose Corn Syrup. I buy just about everything that says ”No HFCS” and I can’t help it. I know… I know… I have heard study after study that says HFCS processes the same as sugar in the body, but for some reason I just don’t trust it! I have been trying to stay away from highly processed food and the Iphone app called “Fooducate” is amanzing. You can scan any item and it rates it. Food that you THINK is healthy, really is not at all.

So in a quest to avoid HFCS, I stopped buying sweet pickles all together. Yes, I have seen the stuff sweetened with Splenda, but I don’t like the idea of that either. Besides, my husband avoids anything that says “Diet” on the label. 🙂 So today, after realizing I had quite a few pickling cucumbers ready, I was ready to do a small batch of canning items. There is a difference between pickling cucumbers and regular cucumbers, regular cucumbers can be used for pickles, but from what I have read they are not nearly as crispy. I also had help in the garden today. My nephew spent the night and of course I put him to work watering celery and cucumbers. He was such a wonderful help.

And the canning begins. I cut the cucumbers first, but some of my cucumbers were a little ripe. They just might be a little soft, but that’s okay with me!

My husband bought me a canning kit for Christmas, but this is the first time that I actually used it. I have NEVER canned pickles before, so I followed the directions very carefully on the seasoning pack I bought. I also found this How to Make Pickles website extremely helpful because of the pictures. These are the materials that I used besides my canning pot.

 


I made the mixture, brought it to a boil, poured it in the containers and put on the heated lids. Then I processed the jars for about 15 minutes and now they are sitting for 24 hours. The pickles will take up to 6 weeks to process in the jars and will last for about a year. I hope the can seals okay! It is best to store the containers without the rings. If the jar spoils, the lid will come off and then you know that it is not safe to eat it. 🙂

Now I will have pickles without HFCS in just a few short weeks. I will probably make more in the future when I get more pickling cucumbers.