Bounteous Harvest!

My sideboard is full of jars of salsa, applesauce and pickles just waiting to be put away. The dehydrator has been in use also.   It’s been a great summer and our backyard garden has delivered.   We’ve enjoyed cherry tomatoes, regular tomatoes, cucumbers, homegrown corn, squash, green onions, parsley, chives, strawberries and peppers of several varieties.  The acorn squash and pumpkin are ripening right now.  My husband planted those gigantic pumpkins that are so huge you don’t really know what to do with them.   I can’t even carry them, let alone carve them into a decent looking Halloween jack-o-lantern.  So we have been blessed, and I have been trying to take good care of our stewardship and not let any food go to waste.

We make Jar Salsa every year.  We got our recipe from someone in the neighborhood years ago, and we’ve tweaked it a little to serve our needs.  It’s just tradition the make several batches of it using our garden tomatoes and peppers.  The kids love it when I take some fresh salsa out of the batch before cooking it and buy a huge bag of chips and let them at it.  It’s the perfect after school snack for September school days! It takes the edge off of those back to school blues!

Our chickens are finally laying eggs.  We are getting one or two a day now.  They supply endless entertainment along with the food. Their antics can be quite funny.  These free range creatures were kind enough to give me two organic eggs for breakfast this morning.

I really feel well nourished and healthy this time of year and I think it is all the fresh garden produce that I eat plus the accumulative benefits of  being out in the sunshine during those summer months.

Here is my recipe  for the jar salsa.  I usually use a food processor to chop up all the vegies:

Jar Salsa

20 cups diced tomatoes

2 1/2 cups diced green bell pepper

1/2 cup jalapeno

1 1/2 cups diced Anaheim pepper

4 serrano chilies diced

1 bunch of cilantro chopped

8 cups diced onions

3 tbsp garlic salt

2 tbsp garlic salt

4 tsp sugar

2 cups vinegar

Put in pan on stove.  Bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Mix 1/4-1/2 cup cornstarch with some cold water to dissolve.  Stir it into tomato mixture.  Boil 20 more minutes.  Fill sterilized jars.  Boil in water bath for 20 minutes for quarts and 15 minutes for pints.  Add 5-10 minutes if you are at high elevation.

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Our Adventures with Backyard Chickens

Our chickens at about five weeks old

Our family recently ventured into territory I had not trod before.  For weeks we had talked about getting some backyard chickens, but I was a little hesitant not knowing what to expect.  My husband grew up having chickens running around his yard in the Southern California neighborhood where he grew up, and it was really no big deal for him.  The chickens of his childhood were named Proctor and Gamble and I know he has fond memories of them.

So,  one  Saturday afternoon in spring we took a trip to our local IFA to look at  chicks.   Our trip turned serious when we decided to actually make our chick purchase that day.  Our youngest was the only one who had come with us to the store, so we let him pick out the chicks.  We decided on Rhode Island Reds because of their beautiful colors and their hardiness during cold weather.  Knowing that chickens are social creatures we packed four chicks into a little card board box. The clerk at the store told us that the chicks we had picked out were about a week old.

We were sent home with a large bag of feed, another large bag of wood shavings, a small feeder, water dispenser and a heating lamp.  We grabbed an empty cardboard box from our basement, filled it with the wood chips and attached the heating lamp.  For a few weeks we kept the chickens in our kitchen, but as they grew bigger and smellier we moved them out to the garage.

For the next few weeks we had fun watching our chicks grow.  The trick was keeping the chicks safe from our black lab Kona.  Luckily she is trained to stay only in our family room.  She will not go into any other rooms in our home, so we were able to keep the chicks safe.

She knew something was up though.  Everytime we let the chickens out to run around on the grass in our backyard she would whine and howl as if in agony.  She wanted nothing more than to get at those chicks.  She had to stay in her kennel as the chicks ran freely around the dog run which had once been hers.

We had a coop made by a guy in a town south of us.  It is mobile so that we can move it around the dog run which is now a chicken run.  We can open it up and let the chickens out to eat bugs and plants.  The idea is that they can run around safe from the big dangerous black dog who is now banished from that area.

The chickens are now almost full size.  They look and sound like full grown chickens.  They are no longer the cute little chicks we used to hold in our hands.  They now make cluck clucking sounds and nip at our heels when we change their water or food.   I am surprised at how much grass they eat.  The areas where the chicken coop as been are eaten down to the brown earth.  It’s a good thing that we can move it around the area.

They are relatively easy to take care of, and our neighbors haven’t really noticed they are there.  The big trick is to keep the dog away from them, but we are managing quite nicely in that area.

Our kids have new chores to do this summer.  I think the work is great for them.  They know that they have to do their chores before they can have fun.   We are looking forward to having fresh eggs in a few months down the road.

Getting to know our chicks

Our custom made portable chicken coop

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Christmas Craft Ideas From a Not so Crafty Mom

I just wanted to share some of my ideas for decorating for the season.  I am not a huge crafty person.  I love to create things and come up with ideas, but I don’t have a lot of time, so my ideas are few and far between.  I did come up with a few ideas this year.

I created a showcase for my children’s home made Christmas ornaments last night.  I just found an old bulletin board that no one wanted to use and painted the frame, covered it with trim and covered the bulletin board with gingham clothe and voila: I have a fun and cute way to show off all those sweet ornaments my sons have made over the years.  I used a glue gun and scissors and that’s about it.  I am not a real crafty person, so it’s not the best example, but you get the idea.

I will also down load a few more pictures of decorations around the house in a few days.

I put painting tape around the edges before painting the frame.

After painting the frame a cream color I put ribbon on the frame with a glue gun.  I then used the glue gun to put the gingham fabric over the bulletin board.  I cut out a tree and put the ornaments on with green and white tacks.  I ran out of the trim for the frame on the bottom, so I will have to return to the store for some more.  I also hot glued little green buttons on each corner of the frame.

Many years ago I made a card holder that I string across my kitchen.  I have posted the photograph of it below.  I just used jute and flannel.  I cut out Christmas tree shapes along with other things like gingerbread boys and hearts.  I cut out filled the trees and other items with a little batting and used a glue gun to sew two together.  I used clothes pins to hang the cards.  It’s very simple but looks quite festive!

I also posted a photo of my  mantel and my cute little Christmas village below.

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The Twelve Days of Christ

I just got done sending a package off to my son who is on a mission for our church.  It’s a spin off on the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”  I did the “Twelve Days of Christ” for him.  Starting on the 14th he will be reading a few scriptures a day about other names for Christ.  He has a small tree, and each day he will put a new ornament on it.  The ornament has the scriptures attached to it.  He will read the scriptures with his companion and then put the ornament on the tree.  There is also a corresponding gift with each ornament.  The gift is what the scriptures are about.  For example the first day he does this is Wednesday December 14th.  The scriptures I gave him for that day are about Christ being the Good Shepherd.  The gift that corresponds with the scriptures has a card on it that says “Good Shepherd.  He opens the gift, and inside there are his favorite candy cane cookies.   I thought that a cane looks enough like a shepherd’s staff to qualify. Continue reading

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Healthy Remakes of Restaurant Favorites

Those of us living here in Utah  have some fun “fast food” Mexican restaurants to visit. Fast food meaning that you go through a line and select your food rather than being waited on by a server.   My family likes the fresh mex style food at Costa Vida and Cafe Rio that feature lettuce, different varieties of salsa, tortillas, grilled meats, beans, and dressings in numerous combinations.  Many spinoff recipes are circulating among friends and neighbors around here for the yummy tomatillo ranch dressing and the  chicken and pork that fills the burritos and salads.

I recently revamped the spinoff recipe I had on hand to make it more healthy and natural. Continue reading

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I Love My New Bike

OK.  I don’t have a good excuse for not writing in this blog all summer.  I feel very guilty, so I will assuage my guilt by talking about my new fitness toy.

I got a new bike for my birthday! Continue reading

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Eating Paleo: A Way to Get Motivated Toward Better Health and Fitness

When it comes to eating right and exercising I have been down in the dumps lately.  I think it’s the cold and rainy weather that has been in abundance lately.  It has definitely put a damper on my motivation.

The good news is that sunny skies are here today and my attitude has gotten a much needed jump start.  I found a wonderful blog that is going to serve as my inspiration to lose that ten pounds that have crept up on me over the winter months. Continue reading

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Take it Easy With Introducing Healthy Foods

“I’m not drinking that,” my son proclaimed as he looked at all the ingredients I was putting into the morning smoothie. (link to recipe here)

I had put some spinach and coconut oil in an otherwise agreeable concoction and it was sure causing problems at our house this morning. Continue reading

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Triathlons and Cleaning Messy Basements

My husband  participated in his first sprint triathlon on Saturday.  He has been training since January.  I have to admire his persistence and his ambition.  At fifty one years of age he set this goal for himself.  It was his very first time as a participant. Continue reading

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I Bought a Diet Coke Last Night

I bought a diet coke last night.  Not only that, but I bought a monster energy drink, yucky orange punch drink, potato chips,  Danimals Crusher Cups and some sprite.  I don’t think I have ever purchased so much junk food in one trip to the grocery store! Don’t worry.  I didn’t consume these items.  I used them as visual aids in a presentation. Continue reading

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