Food Preservation and a Day Off–August 25, 2017

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All day, almost every day, food is being canned and frozen around here.  It’s very exciting to see the cupboard filling up with rows of colorful jars.

The pears are almost all used.  I’ve canned 35 quarts, used many for fruit cocktail and have a batch of pear butter in the crock pot right now.

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Jake and Patsy loved helping with grinding the pears for pear butter.  My recipe is very simple.  Grind the pears, add some sugar to taste, and cook down until it is like jam.  I was so tired last night, I just filled the crock pot and let it cook all night, but it needs to be much thicker.  I will probably use the microwave to cook it down some more today.

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Rob found a dented gallon of pineapple at Cash and Carry for around $2.50, so I canned it up in small jars to be more usable for pizzas, etc.

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I froze yet another tray of peaches from our tree.  They are an odd peach.  Do you notice the green color on the edge of some of the pieces?  Also, when they look really ripe, they are rotten.  So, I’ve been having to work them up when they look a little green to me.  They taste ok, though, and Ja’Ana especially loves peach smoothies and peach crisp, so I’m freezing them, tray after tray.  After they freeze, I put them into baggies.  This way, we can get the frozen pieces out easily to make smoothies.

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The beans are still prolific.   I froze another 7 quarts last night.

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You can only eat so many in a week!!   I think I will be serving beans yet again at family Sunday dinner:)   I think the green ones are about finished and the yellow ones are winding down.  The purple ones are pole beans and will continue until frost, which is great.  I will welcome beans in reasonable quantities until frost.

I did get a couple of batches of applesauce done, but there are a lot of apples left to process.

On Wednesday, we took the day off and went down to the beach.  We went to Newport, Oregon.  Rob wanted to try surf fishing for perch.  He did not catch anything, but we had a great day.

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It was pretty cold and foggy when we got there, compared to the hot temperatures we’ve had in the valley this summer.  It felt great!

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It didn’t stop these 2 from digging for hours.

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Or from trying to dam up the little river.  Or  from making sand castles with water in the moat.

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The sun broke through the clouds and it turned out to be a very pleasant day.  We had a bunch of food in the car, and munched away all day.  On the way home, we grabbed some ice cream and fries from Dairy Queen….This crew sure loves their ice cream and fries!!

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In the afternoon, we visited the Mark Hatfield Marine Science Center.  We always enjoy it there, and they had changed quite a few exhibits from the last time we were there, so that was nice.

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After that, we went down to the docks and bought an albacore tuna from a fishing boat.  The young man working there cut it up for us and we also kept the carcass.  Rob plans to go crabbing soon, so he cut it up and froze it for bait.  Today, I canned the tuna.  I could have frozen it, then canned it later, but I wanted to get it in the jars right away this time.

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I cut it up, put it into the short, round 1/2 pint jars I keep for this purpose, added 1/2 teaspoon salt and a small square of the belly fat, then pressure canned it for 100 minutes.  To translate this further–that means someone gets to sit on a chair for 1 hour and 40 minutes, making sure the pressure canner stays at the correct pressure. We were fighting for the job!  Since Rob was cleaning the shop all day, he was a ready and willing volunteer for this job and finished up the processing time around 6.  Then, it needed to cool until the pressure came down.   I can put 3 layers of these jars in my tall canner, and ended up with 22 small jars and 1 pint.  We ate the additional pint that would not go in.

So far, it’s been a very productive week!

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Saving Money and Weekly Update–July 30, 2017

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This week, we did a lot of hiking up at Silver Falls State Park.  We had quite a bit of work to do here at home, so we worked hard, then took off Monday afternoon and camped a few days, and came home Friday morning and started in at home again.  We went hiking every day we were there, except Friday.  Some days, we went on shorter trails, and went several miles on other days.  It was fun, good exercise, and gorgeous.  There are 10 waterfalls in the area, and we hiked to 8 or 9 of them over the course of the week.  We also did the 1 mile nature trail around the campground.

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This campground was not near any towns, and we did not have full hook-ups, so I cooked every meal from the camper or on the fire.  Not having full hook-ups meant that we showered in the communal bathrooms, used a lot of paper plates, and did a lot of cooking and dish washing outside.  They had a place to dump our tanks on the way down, when we were finished camping, but we had to be careful while we were there.  I took leftover roast beef from last Sunday’s dinner and made hash one day.  I took lots of garden produce, and other leftovers and only bought a few things like milk before we went.  I also took the opportunity to use many items from the camper pantry (under the bench seat and cupboards) that had been in there for a while.

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Rosalie brought Harnet and Danait up for a day.  We hiked, swam, and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows for S’Mores.  It was really a fun day.

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Little Danait took to Rob like a duck to water, especially when he took her into the water:)  He is at work when we visit them, so she did not know him until this day.  We all enjoyed her.  She is so cute, and reminds us so much of Ja’Ana when she was little.

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Gail brought Jake up on Wednesday and he stayed until Friday.  He had a ball, collecting pine cones, hitting things with sticks, roasting marshmallows, hiking and playing Legos.

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Patsy, Lovana, Jake and I even did a 5-mile hike.  Lovana carried him for part of it, but he hiked many miles.  Go, Lovana!!!  Go, Jake!!!  It was fun.

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There are so many amazing waterfalls there.  I think we saw 9 out of the 10 during our many hikes while we were there.  Then, it was back to reality!

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In 2 sessions, I made 4 quarts and 6 pints of dill pickles, total.  My dill has not done very well this year, but I got just enough.  I’m hoping it grows as fast as the cucumbers are growing.  Because it is not plentiful this year, I added a few dill seeds to each jar to make sure they will be “dilly” enough.  I also added the last of the jalepenos I got last week in a big bag, marked down to $2.  I was glad to finish them up, and like the mildly spicy flavor in my pickles.    I made jalepeno poppers one day from a bunch of them that needed to be used immediately, and saved the best ones for pickles.

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We got 15 more pints of beans yesterday.  3 rows of plants are finished, and were pulled out.  I have way more beans frozen and canned than I need, but have more coming along.  So, we are eating fresh beans a lot.  It is a great problem to have!

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Rob went and picked some peaches from my sister’s farm.  I will freeze these.  We love smoothies and peach cobblers in the winter time, and I’m out.

I hit a wonderful sales rack at Macy’s and got t-shirts for $5.99, with and additional 20 percent off, which made them under $5.  I got several.  I also got the girls some things they needed, all marked down.  I don’t shop often, so I had a fairly long list.  I was delighted to get the girls socks for around a dollar a pair from another clearance bin.  I grabbed lots!

Rob, Ja’Ana, Patsy and I will be leaving later this week for a mission trip to Mexico.  Our van will be filled with teen-agers, as this is a high school trip and we are drivers and sponsors.  Lovana is staying home this time and taking care of things around the house and garden.  We will be gone 10 days and there are no laundry facilities.  I am organizing the clothing so that we have enough for the entire time.  I  don’t mind if people wear the same outer clothing more than once.  Underwear and socks…….that’s a different story!  We need a lot!  We have also been gathering a few convenience foods to take.  There will be food, of course, but as a severely gluten-free person, who also is diabetic, I have to have different food at times.  I anticipate eating from my cooler at times when others are having things I cannot have.  We have a very busy week ahead, preserving foods, gardening, packing the rest of the things we need, and some appointments.

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And, last, but not least, Rob performed a wedding ceremony yesterday.  This wedding was for a young man that we have known and loved for many years.  So, Rob had rehearsal Friday night, and the wedding yesterday afternoon.  It was not boring and went off without a hitch. Rob dressed as requested, in Converse, jeans, suspenders and a blue shirt.  I will post pictures in a few days, after the bride and groom and their family have had a chance to post first.

A Fun, Rewarding Day

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My sister, Rosalie, and I, Patsy and Ja’Ana started yesterday off with a very pleasant breakfast with my mom.  It was her birthday.  It was also Rob’s mom’s birthday:)  It’s always been funny to us that they both have the same birthdays.  He was able to go visit her later in the day and they had a nice visit, which he enjoyed very much.

After breakfast, my mom was off to have lunch with my aunt, niece and nephew.  We all teased her that she would be rolling home for dinner last night!  Then, the girls, Rosalie and I headed up to see our friends Harnet and Danait.

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Little Danait looked so cute in the dress I sewed, and you can see the one I made for Patsy on her.  I haven’t been able to sew very much lately, and I enjoy it a lot.  It was fun for me to see how much both girls enjoyed their dresses.  Donate kept looking around for Alissa, since she knows and loves her, but had a great time with Patsy and Ja’Ana.   Ja’Ana texted Alissa and A sent a photo, which seemed to satisfy Danait.  They took her outside for a while, played with her, and kept her busy.

In the meanwhile, Harnet had cooked her wonderful food for us, and after we had lunch, we ladies had a great time visiting, and working on some paperwork that needed to be completed.  There were 3 separate (LONG) forms that needed to be completed, and several documents to be gathered.  We also had to stay at the apartment, waiting for an inspector to come inspect, and then we would be free to go gather the rest of the documents we needed.

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So, we sorted papers and mail, quizzed Harnet endlessly for the answers that needed to be filled in on the forms, wrote them in, figured out what we needed, and visited and looked at pictures in-between.  The girls kept Danait busy, which we were very grateful for.

Finally, the inspector came, tested the smoke alarms, window locks, etc., and went on his way.  It was almost 4.  We were worried that we would not have enough time to gather all that was needed, so we divided and conquered.  I took Harnet and we roared from place to place, gathering documents.  Rosalie took the girls to a splash pad at a nearby library to have fun.

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We had success!  The places we went were not busy.  Everyone treated us like queens, offering us water and cheerful smiling help.  The whole time we were laughing and giggling like girls.  I think Harnet was so relieved to be getting this important paperwork done so smoothly and was so happy that Danait was able to be having such a good time while she did the work.  She was also getting a kick out of the fact that she had made her special coffee for us, and hyped me up pretty good on it!  I was pretty tired until I drank so much:)  She thought it was pretty funny.

While we were at the library, I explained about the summer reading program and we got Danait signed up.  We were also able to make a dental appointment on a day that Rosalie and I can be there to watch the little one while mama gets her teeth cleaned.

It was one of those feel-good days for me.  I got to spend time with both family and friends.  I got to feel like I helped someone get some very important things accomplished and I had a lot of fun while doing it.  I am getting to know Harnet as a person, and I feel like we are getting to be friends.

 

 

Summer Fun–Zoo Trip

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What a difference 4 days makes!  Today, when we went to the zoo, it was sunny and warm.  On Thursday, I was bundled up with 2 sweatshirts on, and we were carrying umbrellas.  Today, I did not even take a jacket with me.  Instead, we froze water bottles and took the ice-filled bottles with us and drank them as they unthawed.  Then, we re-filled them with water from bottle-filling stations I did not even notice on Thursday.  On Thursday, a picnic was out of the question, but today, it was the perfect option.

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Each person had an agenda today.  Michaela wanted to see big cats, and dressed in theme.   She even carried her 2 little stuffed cats around the entire day.   She was especially interested in the lioness she saw who was playing with a toy wrapped around a log in her enclosure.  What a treat to see the lioness being active.  Most animals were lying down today, because it was the first hot day in quite a while.

Jake wanted to ride the zoo train and eat.  He did both.  The zoo– once, the eating–all day long.  I was amazed as he isn’t usually so hungry.  Must be growing.

Patsy was a good sport and enjoyed all the animals we ended up visiting.  She had never been on the zoo train before, so enjoyed that especially.    I’ll probably slip up there one of these days so she can have a little more say-so in what she sees and where we go.   There were a lot of opinions floating around today.   The more we use the zoo pass, the better it is anyway, in my mind.

Rob and I wanted to keep everybody happy, hydrated, cool enough and fed.  We succeeded.  We took food with us that the kids like, several water bottles, took them to the misting areas 3 times, and negotiated between them all day long.   We also got Michaela to drink 3 full bottles of water.  Score!  (You have no idea what an accomplishment that is, but she is really trying to do better with that–we were so proud of her.)

Everyone wanted to go to “Africa” to see the big cats.   It was the primary goal, according to the kids. So, being the good auntie/uncle/parents we are, we started for “Africa” first thing.   “Africa” is harder to reach than you might think.  To get there, you enter the zoo, head down a big hill, stop and see the seals, continue on, have Michaela notice that there are tigers to the right, stop there and see a tiger and a leopard, have Jake notice that the train is running, stop and ride the train, have everyone want lunch, so stop and eat our picnic, have someone notice the insect and discovery area, go in there for a l-o-o-o-n-g time, and then notice that it’s already getting scorching hot and it’s afternoon.  Already.  So, you head off for “Africa” again, but there are the bats….and Jake has the zoo key….and there is one of the recorded messages about bats…..and you finally head off for “Africa” again.

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We finally succeeded in reaching “Africa.”  Jake picked the smallest lion statues to sit on, mainly because they were in the shade.  By this time, the sun was scorching and the metal lion family was smoking hot.  So, we pried them away from the artwork and headed off to see live animals.  We went through the lions, gazelles, African exhibits, giraffes, and hippos.

When we exited that area, we found ourselves just in time for a bird show on the lawn.  It was very exciting to watch, as the birds swooped extremely low over the heads of the spectators sitting on the lawn.  We all enjoyed it.  Then, they could view the birds from a closer distance at the base of the stage.

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The sun continued to beat down on our heads as there was no shade on that lawn, and Michaela, especially, began to suffer from the heat.  She is more sensitive than many to the heat.  We continued to press water on her, and she obligingly drank it.  Still….we were next to the elephants, so headed on over there.  By the time we had viewed them, we were all fried in the heat, and decided to start meandering towards the car.  Rob and I figured we would stop and see more animals on the way, but the kids were done, especially Michaela, who was not feeling very well in the heat by then.  So, we headed back up the hill, stopping frequently to coax the children along–offering drinks and lots of rest stops.  There was no food left by then, so we promised more once we got in the car.   There was another misting station at the top, so they got wet again.  Patsy and Michaela had birthday money burning holes in their pockets, so they revived at the gift shop and bought souvenirs.

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When we left the zoo, the air-conditioned car and the book-on-cd were both welcomed.  The cool drinks and snacks we bought were, too.  We stopped off on an errand and then headed home.  Everybody was happy, healthy, and they all want to go back.  No one got sunburned, as far as I know.  The sunscreen we used was powerful enough.  Whew!  I was a little worried as the day wore on.

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That’s how we like to leave a trip like this–with everyone hungry for more, including the adults.  In fact, Jake asked if we were coming to take him somewhere tomorrow, but we informed him that Mom and Dad didn’t have to work tomorrow like they did today, so it was their turn to spend time with him.  He was diplomatic enough to groan dramatically.   How gratifying!  We are, however, looking forward to the second half  of the week when we are spending all day, every day together while Mom and Dad head off to an out-of-town wedding.  So, I assured him that “many fun things” were in store for him, and they are—-for all of us.  It was a great start to summer.