Spring, Spring, Spring!

I love spring!  And yes, even here in SE Texas we have spring.  This year we actually had a winter too – boy was that a long day!  I am so looking forward to complaining about the summer heat!

We have had a lot more “grey” days than we are used to – how do folks in the NW handle it?  I need my vitamin Sunshine!

I stepped outside this morning because I could hear equipment in the neighborhood, 7:00 am is a little early for that here.  Well they are completing the last manhole for the new sewers they have been installing for the last several months.  A new road is next – woo hoo.

Oh yes, I digressed, I stepped outside and Spring was there to greet me – at first I was just going to take a quick iPhone photo to text a picture of the grapefruit tree to my wonderful hubby – then the smell of Jasmine caught my attention – had to take a photo so then I toured the yard and I thought I would share with you.  Once again –  these are quick iPhone photos – no editing.

As the last bloom fades from my moms Christmas Cactus (yes it has been blooming since before Christmas).....
As the last bloom fades from my moms Christmas Cactus (yes it has been blooming since before Christmas)…..
The finicky grapefruit - seems to only bloom every other year since hurricane Ike.
The finicky grapefruit – seems to only bloom every other year since hurricane Ike.
Can you smell the jasmine?
Can you smell the jasmine?
We might have some guacamole this year!
We might have some guacamole this year!
Peppers waiting to be planted
Peppers waiting to be planted
One of the many orange blossoms
One of the many orange blossoms
Most of my azaleas have died out - but this one will be gorgeous in the next few days
Most of my azaleas have died out – but this one will be gorgeous in the next few days
Can you smell the lemon blossoms?
Can you smell the lemon blossoms?
The kiddos gourds are sprouting nicely
The kiddos gourds are sprouting nicely
And this little guy survived winter just fine!
And this little guy survived winter just fine!
Lots and lots of blueberries!
Lots and lots of blueberries!
My artichokes have at least quadrupled in size.
My artichokes have at least quadrupled in size.
The tomatoes are in the ground - that was hubby's Saturday project!
The tomatoes are in the ground – that was hubby’s Saturday project!

 

Be sure to get out and enjoy spring – it doesn’t last very long around here!

Here’s to a bountiful harvest!

Denise

 

 

 

 

2014 – the year of MOVE

This year my focus will be centered around the word MOVE – I need to be more physically active – MOVE

We are building a new home – MOVE

Sometimes I get lazy and I need to remind myself – MOVE

I actually started implementing this a few days ago – I have been working in the yard for a minimum of 1 hour each “sunny” day.  This worked 12/26 and 12/27 and today 1/2.  The other days were spent with hubby, running errands and playing with grandkids!

Mr. B spent the night on 12/31 so on New Years Day we took him to the park – boy he knows how to MOVE!  Perpetual motion!

Stretch......  Can't quite make it!
Stretch…… Can’t quite make it!
Resting
Resting
Upside down on the swing
Upside down on the swing
Happy Boy!
Happy Boy!
Weeeeee...
Weeeeee…

Cool photo - no he isn't upside down - grandpa had the camera turned that way - I would not have thought to rotate the photo!
Cool photo – no he isn’t upside down – grandpa had the camera turned that way – I would not have thought to rotate the photo!
Flips!
Flips!
Pole climbing
Pole climbing

And a few of the yard work accomplishments…..

12/26 I worked on the herb bed!

Before....  That lion's tale was gorgeous when it bloomed!
Before…. That lion’s tale was gorgeous when it bloomed!
After....  Ready to buy plants - need to get the shovel to dig up the lions tale.  Look at that happy Copper Canyon Daisy in the back corner!
After…. Ready to buy plants – need to get the shovel to dig up the lions tale. Look at that happy Copper Canyon Daisy in the back corner!

12/27 I worked on the elevated strawberry patch…..

Before - the tiered strawberry patch
Before – the tiered strawberry patch
After - need to add some more strawberry plants!
After – need to add some more strawberry plants!

Today, 1/2 I cleaned out the cucumber and egg plant bed!

The cucumber bed - no before photo - but these vines were everywhere!
The cucumber bed – no before photo – but these vines were everywhere!
The mother plant to the vines - good grief!
The mother plant to the vines – good grief!
And the after!
And the after!

So I hope you will help me MOVE this year!  Lots to do and lots to see!

You Say “Tomato” I say _________.

This past Sunday we stopped by the local pick-your-own farm, with the grandchildren. “Fruits and Such Orchard”, find them on facebook for daily updates. Anyway, we stopped by because Renae had posted that she had pre-picked tomatoes for sale. We purchased about 25 lbs. to supplement what we had on our 24 plants so we could have enough to can a nice batch of quarts.

Our wonderful neighbors, the Smith’s, have tutored us through the process, starting with the growing – Ross has the most wonderful tomatoes – they have a double driveway and grow the tomatoes on a strip between the driveways.

So Monday evening I prepared the kitchen for the process. This includes, clearing the counters, sterilizing everything to be used including the counters. This time to sterilize the jars I went with a recommendation in one of my preserving books, it said to place the jars in the dishwasher and fun a full cycle with heated dry, the heated dry will keep your jars hot while you pack them. The timing for this was tricky, we had to wait for the dishwasher to finish before we could begin – I prefer the boiling method of sterilizing and then pour boiling water in your jars to keep them hot while you work with your produce. It is always good to try a technique before you shoot it down as invalid. (Now maybe if I was canning a higher quantity the dishwasher method would have more benefits.)

A couple of years ago Drue invited me over to “help” can some tomatoes. This tutorial probably saved our marriage (just kidding) but their hints were really helpful. First figure out the path the tomato will have to take.
My better half does the first 4 steps
1) cut an X in the bottom of the tomato and core it at this time
2) drop several scored tomatoes in boiling water for about 60 seconds (this loosen the peel)
3) drop these tomatoes in an ice bath to quick cool them
4) peel them and set them aside

Now for my part of the process
5) cut the tomatoes into chunks and place in large bowl
6) using the jar funnel and a ladle scoop tomatoes into a quart jar
7) use the bubble remover to remove the air pockets in the jar and continue to fill until 1/2″ space remains from the top of the jar
8) wipe the jar top clean
9) Using the magnetic lid lifter carry the lid from the 180″ water to the top of the jar, then add sterilized ring and tighten

Fresh out of our garden.....
Fresh out of our garden…..
Almost to pretty to attack!
Almost to pretty to attack!
The small pan has the lids and rings ~ the two large pots are for blanching
The small pan has the lids and rings ~ the two large pots are for blanching
The tools of the trade "Utensil Set for Preserving"
The tools of the trade “Utensil Set for Preserving”
The peels and cores ...  I did not say it was a pretty process!
The peels and cores … I did not say it was a pretty process!
The chopping block - this is where I chunk the tomatoes and scoop them into the bowl below
The chopping block – this is where I chunk the tomatoes and scoop them into the bowl below
A bowl full of yum!
A bowl full of yum!
A few more jars to go...
A few more jars to go…
So pretty after their bath - 5 jars of yummy goodness!
So pretty after their bath – 5 jars of yummy goodness!

Then I do clean up while he prepares for the hot bath, which consists of boiling the filled jars for 45 minutes, we had 3 batches of 5 jars (15 total). The last batch was finished just before 11:00 pm. Hubby finds the “jar lifter” a very handy tool when removing the processed jars from their bath.

My husband and I both enjoy working outdoors, producing small amounts of food from our vegetable garden, fruit trees and herb garden. We both enjoy the process of preserving these tasty treasures. While it is no longer necessary for survival, nor can I say we do it to “save” money, there is just something about it that takes us back in time.

Here is Corey’s grandma’s Green’s old stove, it sat outside her home on a back patio away from the house and she spent many summer and fall days preserving their harvest so the family could eat during the winter. This beauty currently resides in our garage laundry room (it took a little bit of clearing so I could share this photo with you). In our new home we are designing a special place to show case her. I think she needs a name – I will have to ponder this….

Grandma Green's Old Stove - It spent its winters out in the snow and canned "tons" of food to feed the family through the winter.
Grandma Green’s Old Stove – It spent its winters out in the snow and canned “tons” of food to feed the family through the winter.

Nobody’s Fool

While many are playing pranks and enjoying a day of Fools – I take time to pause to remember my husband’s father, Ken Green.  Today would’ve been my father-in-laws 92nd birthday.  Kendrick LaVere Green was a kind and gentle man.  He loved to golf and fish.  He loved to watch Nascar and Golf on TV also.  After a courageous battle with prostrate cancer he lost his battle on July 22nd , 1998.   Grandpa also loved to work in the yard, as his grown children were sorting through the house after the memorial service, I stepped outside to weed his flowerbed.  The family will remember this flower bed because it is the one that lined the front walkway of their house on Cherry Blossom Lane, Grandpa build that flower bed as he built the rock wall that served as the foundation for the walkway.   He also grew the best cantaloupe I have ever tasted.   I find it hard to believe so much time has passed.

I realized a few months after grandpa Green left us that a very integral part of our family status was gone.   Each family took the time to call and visit with grandpa, updating him with what was new in each of our lives.  We had moved to TX by this time I really enjoyed our telephone chats because I would learn what the other families were up to.  We no longer had that center command post, and we have not found a way to recreate it to this day, even with email, facebook and more telephone options than one could imagine.

**A short history of Ken’s life as written by Norma, his bride of over 50 years (they didn’t quite make it to 51 before we lost Norma).

Kendrick LaVere Green, born April 1, 1921, Butlerville, Utah.  Childhood was spent in Butler grade school, Brighton, Utah working with riding horses and boat renting places.  Parents Elva Loraine Staker Green and George Almon Green.  He has two sisters (Carole and Iris).  Baptized L.D.S.  Went to Jordan High School.  Entered Mechanic Learners School to join the Navy in 1941.  Schooled at Logan University.  (I interviewed him for schooling at Hill Field).  He then went to Norfolk, VA, where he was 1st class aircraft machinist for the Navy for 4 ½ years  Came home on leave, and as stated above met me and WOW!!!

 47506208 Review CDG 1

47506208 Review CDG

Happy Birthday Grandpa Green (you were nobody’s fool!)

Denise

 

Something the Lord has Made

What a beautiful weekend to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.  We seem to have some odd ways to honor this holiday – coloring of eggs and baskets of goodies?  This weekend was busy – we had one of the kiddos Friday night and on Saturday the rest of the family joined us for some spring celebration. 

Friday night we colored Easter eggs using shaving cream and food coloring – this proved to be a very fun activity.  I hope you will consider trying this activity with your little ones – I would recommend gloves though as the food coloring does not just wash away!  

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On Saturday Little Toot wanted a rose, so we headed out to the Maas Nursery to pick up some plants, including her rose.  

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She also wanted to plant some seeds, her choice was burgundy okra.  As we are not true southerners my husband and I have not yet bonded with this little veggie, but the plants are very pretty and so we will hope for a successful planting.  Once her planting was done she played and played in the mud. 

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Part of their Easter surprise were kites, no wind yesterday so they created their own, and of course as brother was running down the street the phrase “Run Forest Run” was going through my mind.  

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I hope your weekend was long and spent with family creating memories.

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Denise