Canning and school. Those are my newest hobbies! LOL Well, they are not really hobbies, as they take up all of my time lately. And guess what? I'm burnt out! haha Here's what's been going on:
Canning is going well. If you've never tried it, start with something simple. Water-bath canning is easiest (also called boiling-water canning). Check out Ball's website for exact directions and ask anyone over 30, they probably have all at least helped. Peaches and tomatoes are pretty easy.
This week I've been canning pears in a light syrup. I saved the peels and cores and used my steamer-juicer to make pear juice. Mmm.. Smells like Fall in here with that going on. I also used up the pears that were too mushy to can by making juice. This is an excellent way to get juice if you have extra fruit on trees, or after canning your fruit, or if you have loaded grapevines. Yum! My family loves homemade juice! For fun you can add club soda and it turns into a fruity soda pop! (Only it's a little bit healthier).
I've also been making a dill relish. We use this all year long for tuna sandwiches, potato salad and hot dogs or hamburgers. The great thing about relish is that it uses up tons of zucchini or yellow squash and cucumbers- whatever you have on hand. There are so many varieties of relish too! I made mine basically like I make my pickles. I add tons of garlic and dill but I added a little bit of red bell pepper too.
(Look how many foods I wrote about just now! Good grief!!)
Last night for dinner we had taco salad and I used my homemade pinto beans/refried beans and garden lettuce. I can't tell you how nice it is to open up a jar and use it for dinner, already made. Or walk to the garden and gather your food. I mixed the beans into the meat (like I've mentioned before). Tonight we're using leftovers to have Tacos with homemade tortillas. So here's another fun thing to make; tortillas. It's not that hard but it does take a little time. Since I had to be in the kitchen all day, I decided to make them early and heat them up for dinner so they are all ready at once. Tortillas only use flour, fat (I used a tiny bit of butter this time), salt, baking powder and water. If I make them more often I'd also experiment with flours and add healthy stuff instead of just using unbleached AP flour.
This week I suffered canning burn out. haha Are you surprised? Have you been there? If you've canned very much at all, it takes some a few times to get it, and others... many more. None the less, that's another reason I have been making pear juice. I just didn't have anymore energy to stand in the kitchen and peel and cut and then wait for the canner. :) It happens. I love to can and have food ready at home for my family because it costs very little. The problem is that I've been working so hard at it that my husband, Derek, noticed and helped me out. He told me not to do it when I'm too worn out. Sometimes it takes someone else to let you know that you are DONE! haha
On the other hand, when fruit is ripe, it has to get done. ugh.
In between canning and the rest of life, school started for us yesterday as well. This year Derek and I decided on My Father's World for our curriculum. So far, I am so pleased with it. For the last couple of years that we've been homeschooling I've used different curriculum and mixed & matched what we had. It worked but it didn't work well for me. I need something that is already planned out for me (the teacher), for the most part. There are too many other things that I have to think about as a mom, wife and teacher that I'd rather leave the researching and gathering of a good curriculum to them. This is a Christian, Bible based program, which is the most important to us.
Amongst the overwhelming-ness of life, I felt so greatly encouraged this weekend too. I started going to "cake decorating lessons" with my MIL and SIL and on the way home I had to pull my car over. I was listening to a Phil Wickham song called "Heaven's Song" and noticed at the same time the magnificent sky toward the west. (Being alone in the car with worship music blasting through my speakers is my most favorite place.) The sun was setting and the view was amazing. The light beams were so brightly shining through the billowy clouds and it really looked as if God were right in the middle of it all, shining through in all His glory. I sat there singing and just stared. He is so amazing! The way he takes care of the details of our lives, down to the smallest thing and also the way in which He is so BIG, grand and amazing!
I felt so thankful that God has given me the life He has. It is rarely an easy life, in some senses but in others, I have His peace. I realized too that when life is so full and overwhelming that I can actually trust His Holy Spirit to get me through a day, and not just get me through but He can make it a successful day. His plans are far greater than mine, above mine.
This was written a couple nights ago. Since then I've canned my peaches and now, I'm taking a small canning break. I have wanted to sew for many weeks now and I really haven't had the time. There's just been too much going on. That will be changing soon. I want to make myself a handbag/purse and with the slow, fall and winter season coming up, that's just what I'll do.
This is a lot of rambling I suppose but I wanted to share the real life I live. I love how God puts times in my life of encouragement in all of the other stuff that's going on. Listen to that song I talked about. It's great! (You probably just heard it on my playlist.)