Peppery Weekend

13 pints of Hot Pepper Relish canned – check

Poblano peppers frozen – check

Jalapeno peppers frozen – check

Sweet peppers frozen – check

The only thing left is the tobacco peppers that are still in the garden.

Then it’s on to cleaning up the garden until next spring.  Clean-up is going to be the hardest part this year, but then I can focus on planning out next year’s garden.  Yay!!!

 

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Harvesting

I’m still feeling the effects of bronchitis.  I’m sure the weather hasn’t helped and it certainly hasn’t helped my ability to get harvesting done.  So early last evening I pulled myself together and went to the garden.  My weed infested garden.

As quickly as I could, I harvested beans, peppers and another watermelon.  It doesn’t sound like a lot but I harvested several different types of peppers – jalapeno, Serrano, green, yellow and red peppers, tequila sunrise and poblano.  I still have tabasco peppers to pick, but I need to preserve what I have now before I move on to that project.

Today I began shelling beans.  We grew a variety of dried beans – black, pinto, lima, and red just to name a few.  I primarily grew black beans as they are a staple in our house during fall and winter and it was my first attempt at growing dried beans.  So far I would have to say I’m impressed and can see myself growing a large crop of different types of beans in the future.  They really are easy to grow and harvest.  Shelling is the most difficult part so far, but it’s really just time-consuming more than anything.  An evening in front of the t.v. with a big bowl in my lap and I’m sure I could get them done :-)

While I was shelling beans, hubby was in the kitchen pulling the cores and seeds out of jalapeno, Serrano, tequila sunrise and poblano peppers to make a hot pepper relish.  Being around the pepper oils is tough anyway, but it’s especially hard when getting over bronchitis, so I was happy to let him handle that part of the process.  He then peeled onions, which happened to be the worst part of the process.  While he was taking care of the onions, I put the peppers thru the food processor, then the onions.  After sitting in a bath of boiling salt water for 10 minutes, I drained them and added 2 1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar and 2 1/2 cups of sugar.  I stirred everything together and after boiling for 20 minutes, the relish was ready to be packed in jars and put in the water bath canner for 15 minutes.  We had enough for 6 1/2 jars of hot pepper relish and tried out the 1/2 jar on pulled pork sandwiches for dinner.  I don’t handle hot peppers wells, but the processing and sugar really cut down on the heat and the flavor was very good.  We have plenty of peppers left and will be making more jars of relish this week to fill the shelves for winter.

Unfortunately, the weather and blight ended my tomato crop for the year.  I began pulling plants yesterday and will need to burn them to kill off the blight.  I still have lots of jars of tomatoes from last year, so we’ll be okay, but it’s disappointing to have gotten so few tomatoes from so many plants.

My other disappointment is not getting my root vegetables planted for a fall harvest.  I have never planted fall crops and wanted to give it a try this year, but life and weather  wreaked havoc on my gardening aspirations.

Even with the disappointments, I learned much from gardening this year.  For example, I’m going to wait until I have a larger garden area before planting watermelon again.  I knew it would take a lot of space, but I under-estimated just how much space.   They need their very own garden :-)

Here is to a better garden next year!

 

 

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The “M” Word

Menopause!

My friend Cecilia began writing a letter to her sister about the “M” word.   Having lost their mother years earlier, Cecilia realized that she needed to fill in the gaps their mother left behind.  That included preparing her sister for one day going thru menopause.

As she was trying to put into words what she wanted to share, she came up with a brilliant idea.  Why not invite other woman to share their stories and journeys thru menopause?  After all, there are and will be millions of women who need someone to talk to them about the “M” word.  So she invited several woman who read her blog to participate in writing a book called, “Letters For My Little Sister.”  I was one of 68 women invited to participate.

Writing a blog does not a writer make, but having gone thru menopause certainly qualified me to participate in the book, so I put together my piece and sent it off to Cecilia.

The book has gone to the printers now and Cecilia is awaiting the proof copy.

I am excited and honored to have participated in the writing of this book.  I’ve pre-ordered three copies (one for me and one for each of my daughters).  I hope the book is a huge success in providing other women information and inspiration as they begin their own journeys thru menopause.  After all, we don’t all have mothers in our lives who are willing or able to tell us about their own experiences with the “M” word.

Now, if you will all please do me a favor and go out to Cecilia’s FB page https://www.facebook.com/Lettersformylittlesister?fref=nf then hit ‘Like’ that would be awesome.  Not only can you stay up-to-date on the publishing of this book, but enough likes will give even more recognition to this little book.

Thanks.

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Life’s Challenges

Life is challenging right now.  Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just challenging.

Every day we see improvements in the boys, but every day we have challenges, especially with FS1.  As foster kids do, he came with baggage.  Every day we preach kindness and respect.  Every day we see him trying to demonstrate those things in little ways.  Knowing a little about the environment he came from, I have no doubt it’s a challenge for him, but he is putting forth great effort.

Kindness and respect is also something that Naomi is hearing a lot about these days.  She has been displaced as the youngest child in the family and while she was very excited about it at first, she isn’t always handling her new role in the best way.  Jealously has reared its ugly head more than a few times and time-out has become a popular past-time for both Naomi and FS1.  It’s one of the many challenges right now, but there are little signs that it’s improving.

FS2 has done remarkably well.  I recently found out that he was a co-sleeper.  I had a strong suspicion that was the case, but he wasn’t sleeping soundly with me the first few nights and has since become a pretty good crib sleeper.  We’ve learned that he HATES being covered up, so warm jammies take the place of a blanket and most nights now he sleeps thru the night.

Teething has been another challenge we’ve been facing.  FS2 came to us with 4 bottom teeth and a ton of drool.  This week his first top tooth emerged and 3 others on trying to work their way thru.  He has had some rough moments with the teeth since being here, but overall he has proven to be a pretty happy little guy and is attaching and bonding well.  He has made it clear that he prefers me and will whip his head around when he hears my voice.  He also cries when I walk in the room and immediately wants me to pick him up.  He craves that attention and it’s challenging.  With 3 other kids to care for, I can’t give him all the attention he wants and probably needs, so we’re trying to find a good balance.  We’ll get there.

Lili has probably handled all the adjustments the best.  She went from the big sister of one to the big sister of three.  She has become a wonderful momma’s helper and enjoys caring for FS2 when my attention needs to be elsewhere.  She is learning how to feed him, will give him a bottle, but isn’t eager to jump in and change diapers yet.  Naomi, on the other hand, is all about the diapering.  She’s even willing to try changing dirty diapers.  Between the two of them, I’m just about set :-)  Not too many challenges with Lili right now and that’s a good thing.

I took FS1 in for testing and he qualified for the pre-k program.  We now have the new challenge of sending him off to public school each day and getting our homeschooling done.  This is something new this week and we’ll find a good rhythm that works for us.  It’s just not going to happen this week.

Another challenge is the boy’s visits with mom and dad.  It’s part of the deal in foster care.  Parents need the opportunity to fix what was broken and kids need to continue their relationship with mom and dad while things are being fixed.  They’ve been with us 1 month on Sunday and they’ve had one visit with mom.  I really can’t go into detail, but I will say that punctuality doesn’t appear to be a strong trait of moms, so they’ve spent very little time with her and haven’t seen dad at all yet.  Getting regular weekly visits has been a challenge, but it’s much more a challenge for their case worker than it is for me.  My challenge comes in making sure they are ready and then sitting back and waiting to see if things will work out.  So far, it hasn’t worked out, but it’s early in the game.

Harvesting and preserving the harvest has also been a big challenge this year.  Getting sick really set me back and my energy level still hasn’t returned to normal.  I managed to pick tomatoes last weekend and canned 6 pints of tomato sauce, but that’s all I could handle.  I still have tomatoes that need to be canned and more tomatoes on the vine to be picked.  The weather has also hampered things.  We have had a tremendous amount of rain this summer and it’s raining as I type this.  I’ll do my best to get everything done, but between the kids, school, activities, and my recovery, it’s not going even close to what I had planned.

Hubby begins a new job on Tuesday.  It’s with the same company, just a new position, but we had to making some scheduling changes.  One of those changes was cancelling our cross-country field trip.  The boys were another reason we had to cancel.  We could have taken them, although we aren’t sure we could have taken them for two full weeks, but the bigger problem was hubby getting started in the new job.  I can’t provide details other than to say that it was a slow process moving into this new role and the customer wanted him in the job weeks ago, so taking 1-2 weeks off right now really wouldn’t have been the best decision for his career.  So we cancelled for now and will work to reschedule it for a later date.  My challenge now is not focusing on the fact that we were to leave early tomorrow morning on this trip and instead we’ll be staying home.

Like I said, we have challenges, but they are manageable challenges and aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

There is one other challenge as well and that’s my computer.  It’s beginning to die a slow death and we’ll be replaced soon.  As such, I’m limiting my computer time and not uploading pictures until I have a new computer to use.  Of course I can’t share pictures of FS1 or FS2 and I do apologize for the lack of pictures on my blog.  For now, I’ll share some picture quotes which seem very applicable to my life right now.

Posted in Challenges, Family, Foster Care, Gardening, Preserving, School | Tagged , | 4 Comments

UGH!!!!

It’s summer and I came down with the flu.  It hit me quick and hit me hard.

After 24 hours I started feeling a little better, but was up and down from day-to-day.  Then Wednesday my husband stayed home from work and after an appointment that morning I came back home and went to bed.  I felt miserable.  When I got up several hours later I left and went to the doctor.  I am not a fan of seeing doctors.  I avoid them whenever possible, but I was miserable and nothing else was working.  About 30 minutes later I walked out with a diagnosis and was headed to the pharmacy – bronchitis and a sinus infection.

Seriously, it’s summer!!!  Isn’t this stuff that happens in the winter?

I’m starting to feel a little better, but the cough just seems to want to hang on.

I have ripe red tomatoes that need picking and canning.  I have watermelon that needs picking and eating.  I have beans that need to be picked and dried.  Peppers that needs picked and frozen.  Not to mention I have four kids that need my care and attention.

I DO NOT HAVE TIME TO BE SICK!!

Hopefully the weekend will have me feeling back to normal and things will really start getting done around here.  In the meantime, I’m going to stock up on Echinacea.  I need to get well and stay well!!!!

 

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So Far, So Good

Just a quick update to let everyone know that we’re doing okay.

I can only imagine how scary, frustrating and confusing it is to be removed from your home only to be placed with complete strangers.  As such, we have certainly had some challenges.

Because I can’t give any information on the boys, including their names, I’ll simply refer to them as FS1 and FS2.  FS1 is our almost 4-yr-old foster son and FS2 is our almost 9-month-old foster son.

FS1 has had some difficulty settling in to the rules in our house.  Simple things such as no hitting, no grabbing toys from others, being kind to others, etc.  Rules that most of us learned along the way, but rules that have been somewhat tough for him to follow.  Time-out is our preferred method of correction for broken rules and he proved that he wasn’t going to follow the time-out rules either.  I would sit him in time-out and he would tell me no, jump up and try to run away from me.  Put him back in time-out and the same thing.  Put him back in time-out and the same thing.  Eventually I told him that if he couldn’t sit nicely in time-out, he would need to go to his room.  Guess who was escorted to him room and guess who was even less pleased with that option.  Hitting and kicking ensued which required intervention on my part to make sure he didn’t injure me or himself.  Eventually, he calmed down and all the hurt, anger, frustration and confusion came spilling out in tears.  It’s amazing what a little cuddle time and understanding will do to help mend a broken heart.  He’s had a couple other out-of-control episodes like this, but I’m happy to report that for the last couple of days, any time-outs given have been accepted without confrontation and overall, he is a sweet little guy who has been dealt a very bad hand of cards.

FS2 spent the first 3 days crying more than anything else.  He would just look around the room trying to figure out what was happening.  Sleep was almost non-existent and he was exhausted, as was I.  He needed to understand that we would be there for him, so there was a lot of holding, rocking, cuddling, feeding, bathing and playing.  By the 3rd day we were seeing many more smiles and had started to hear him laugh.  By the 4th night he began sleeping thru the night.  He smiles and laughs many times throughout the day, crying when he is hungry, tired, needs a diaper change or simply needs to be held.  He has stolen the hearts of those who have met him and is a very different baby from the one I picked up 1 1/2 weeks ago.

We have some developmental concerns about FS1.  We believe the delays we are seeing are simply lack of opportunity and with a lot of work here at home and some outside intervention, I have every reason to believe he’ll be just fine.

The girls were very excited about having the boys come to live with us.  The newness began to wear off by the 2nd day and Naomi began to ask when they were going back home.  She is better now, calling FS1 brother and very much acting like the older bossy sister.

Lili has taken responsibility for FS2.  He lights up when she walks in the room and she lights up when she sees him.  They are building a very special relationship which is awesome to see.

We have explained to the girls that our job is to give the boys a home with love and care until their parents are able to care for them again.  Lili very much understands this and has told me that she will be sad and will probably cry when they have to leave, but it doesn’t stop her from giving her all.

Hubby and I are desperately trying to find a good routine and balance.  As much as we would like it to happen overnight, it just isn’t going to happen that quickly.  At this point, I’m just thrilled that I have managed to get some laundry done, the dishwasher filled and run on a daily basis and everyone fed.  Eventually we’ll all settle in and find what works best for all of us.  It may take a few months, but it will happen.

Now, if I can just find the time to get my tomatoes made into sauce and canned, I’ll really be doing good!!

Posted in Foster Care | Tagged | 3 Comments

Absence

They say it makes the heart grow fonder.

My absence has been for good reason though, so let me try to quickly share.

As some of you know, about 2 1/2 years ago, we became foster parents.  We had two sisters, ages 4 & 6 for about a month before they went on to live with another family.  There were many emotions wrapped up in a small package and after the experience we put foster parenting on hold and eventually turned in our license.  We had set a goal to move to our own little homestead for a life of more self-sufficiency and discussed the possibility of getting back into foster care once we were on the farm.

Fast forward 2 years and we aren’t on that farm nor do we know when that might happen.  We’ve put many things on hold while we have been waiting to make that dream our reality, including foster care so for many personal reasons, we decided to reinstate our foster care license.   Our reinstatement was quick and we got our license in the mail about 1 1/2 weeks ago with the expectation that we wouldn’t get a call until after our late summer/early fall trip.  Imagine my surprise when our licensing worker called late Thursday afternoon about two brothers, ages 7 months and 3 years, who were sitting in the Department of Children and Family Services office and in need of a home.  So many things went thru my mind in a matter of seconds, including the fact that hubby was out-of-town on business and wouldn’t return until Saturday night.  Then I said, “We’ll take them” and our life has been full of craziness ever since.  Not that our life wasn’t crazy before, but taking in two little guys who have been thru so much in such a short period of time adds an element of craziness that is difficult to explain.

As expected, we have had some challenging moments – A 3-yr-old with big feelings that have come out in some tough behaviors and a baby, who I now know is almost 9 months old, and who doesn’t feel comfortable enough to fall asleep (he only slept about 6 hours during the first 24 hours here and hasn’t improved a lot since then).  But we’ve also had some very enjoyable moments like watching Naomi and the 3-yr-old (who I’ll call TT) laugh and play together.  Or seeing the baby (who I’ll call TK) finally smile and belly laugh.  Although some of the most enjoyable moments have been watching Lili care for TK.  It’s the first time she’s spent this much time with a baby and she has been so gentle and nurturing.  She got the first smile from TK and he lights up when she walks in the room.

I know we have many more tough moments ahead of us, but I also know that we’ll have many more enjoyable moments ahead as well.  We just have to ride the waves and do the best we can.

Longer periods of absence here seem inevitable right now.  Please know it’s not that I have forgotten about my little blog and it’s not that we’re put our homesteading dreams aside.  While we’re waiting and hoping for our homestead goal to fall in place, we’ve accepted a very important role as caregiver for two cute little boys who need our love, nurturing and family right now.

I hope you’ll check in from time-to-time and I’ll do my best to update any chance I get.

Posted in Foster Care, Homesteading, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 5 Comments