Canning Peaches

I just love canning! There is something so wonderful about seeing jars of fruits, jams, jellies and broth lining my shelf and it gives me such a sense of accomplishment! So much of my daily work is undone so quickly: laundry, cleaning and cooking meals that it can get discouraging but with canning a couple hours of work can be seen for months!

Fall is a time to preserve the harvest (even if its not from your own land), stock the freezer with good meat and the woodshed with lots of wood for winter. The temperatures are starting to cool off which makes it so much nicer for canning (or chopping wood).

I am so blessed that every year in September a family brings a trailer of fruit from their orchard in Washington. I get to buy directly from the farmer so the prices are amazing! This year I bought 160 pounds of different kinds of apples and 40 pounds of peaches for a grand total of $202! (And that includes some Honeycrisp apples that are more expensive.) We also have apple trees on our property that produce some fruit.

 

Now my family can eat fruit pretty quickly but I try to get as much put up as I can. Peaches are so easy to can. I put up 14 quarts of peach slices in about 3 hours with help from my Grandma and my 2 and 4 year olds. Having a few extra hands is so nice when canning but you can do it by yourself it will just take longer.

I start by heating my big canning pot full of water. I put the jars in to heat and sanitize while I prepare the fruit. Then I put a big pot of water on to boil for blanching the peaches. Next I mix up some simple syrup and get it heating to dissolve the sugar. I like a light to medium syrup so I mix 1 part sugar to 2 parts water. (Can you see why its best to do this on a cool day?) Finally, I fill up one side of the sink with ice cold water.

Now I am ready to start the peaches! I put several whole peaches in the boiling pot of water and let them blanch for 2-3 minutes. Then a quick dunk in the ice cold water makes it so the skins peel right off. It is so easy that my 4 year old son did this job this time. Continue until all the peaches are peeled.

We had another station set up at the table. It has a bowl for the pits, a bowl filled with Vitamin C powder sprinkled in water (to prevent browning), a knife, a cutting board and a towel. The people at the table cut the peaches into slices and place them in the bowl of Vitamin C water.

Next I remove the jars from the hot water and place another set in. I fill the hot jars with as many peach slices as I can fit (they will shrink down). Then I pour the syrup to cover the peaches making sure to leave at least a half inch gap. I then take a knife and run it around the edges so that any trapped air bubbles can be released. After I am done with that I use a damp washcloth to wipe off the rim of the jars to make sure nothing interferes with the lid sealing. I place the lids on the jars and then tighten the rings.

Quarts of peaches take 20 minutes to process in the boiling water. Make sure water covers the tops of the lids. After the time is up I remove the jars of peaches to a towel on a counter (in a spot they won’t get bumped). And then the most beautiful sound comes of the jars sealing, “Pop!”

I always check the lids later on to make sure they are tight. If any don’t seal I either process them again with a new lid or stick them in the refrigerator to eat in the next couple of days.

I like to label my jars using a Sharpie to write the date and what the contents are if necessary. (It’s pretty obvious these jars are filled with peaches so I only wrote the date.)

I hope you found this explanation helpful! Do you like to can? What are your favorites?

Next time…. Apples!

MamaKay

 

The Death of a Dream

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.


John 12:24


The last couple of years have been a very refining time in my life. There is something about being in your 40s that makes you face things you have been avoiding. I’m not sure if it is due to age, having teenagers questioning you or what but,  come it does. I have done so much soul searching and wrestling with my ideals trying to discern what is good and what is chaff that needs to be let go of. What is life giving? What is life draining? What do I have choices about? And what do I have to do anyways? I am still processing and refining but I have come to the conclusion that one dream in particular has to be allowed to die.

It is having a homestead.

I had such a beautiful dream of growing a homestead with our family working side by side growing our own food, preserving it, potentially selling it and building this wonderful life. The reality was so different from what I expected. We were all city folk for so long. There are so many things to learn and do. I am so good at learning about ideas but implementing them is something else entirely different. I am a terrible gardener and we didn’t even plant one this year. Milking a cow was less than productive. At this point our 40 plus chickens barely give us enough eggs for the day much less having some for others. Our fences can’t contain our cows. We just can’t do it all anymore. Does this mean we are going to move? No. Are we going to get rid of all of the animals? No. Am I going to have another garden? I’m not sure. Have I learned from our experiences the last 6 years? Absolutely!

We absolutely love living in Montana! We love having a huge yard with trees and animals that the kids can enjoy and have meaningful work taking care of it. We love having a wood stove and fireplace to warm our home. I still enjoy canning and preserving good food for the future. I still want our home to be the center of our lives. To be a warm and inviting place to settle in for a good meal and wonderful conversations.

Sometimes one thing has to die so a new thing can grow in its place.

Writing has always been a part of my desires since I was a little girl. I have neglected it the past few years and my soul feels the weight of that. I have lost my voice. I am trying to find it once again. I feel the stirrings of life once again. I hope you will continue to join me in this journey of life as I share my words about the life I live as a wife and a mother of eight looking for my own voice and sharing in grace from our heavenly Father. I hope to share with you what I am learning along the way, what I am reading and what I am cooking in hopes that it can help you in your journey.

Have you had to let a dream die? What grew in its place?

MamaKay


 

What I Learned This Summer

I have been listening to Emily P Freeman’s new podcast (The Next Right Thing) and she encouraged me to make a list to document what I learned this summer.

So here goes:

  1. I love reading! I really do! It’s not really something I actually learned this summer but I put into practice reading more. I stepped away from the online world and got absorbed into a fictional world and it was lovely! At the beginning of the year I became a member of the Modern Mrs. Darcy site and it has really helped me expand my reading repertoire.

2. Keeping in the Word really makes so much difference. Even though it feels a bit extravagant I subscribed to She Reads Truth and it has been so wonderful having beautiful studies sent to my door to keep me on track. 

3. I am stronger than I thought. My expectations of life came crumbling down, my marriage hit a rocky spell and my oldest graduated and went to college. It was so hard! But I’m still here and I’ve learned and grown so much. I have not been crushed!

4. Conflict can be necessary and it doesn’t mean its the end. My whole life I have avoided conflict to the best of my ability. I have been afraid to lose relationships or to cause problems if I expressed my opinions that were different than the other party. It didn’t really protect me. My feelings and opinions still existed and bitterness was growing in my heart. Now I am becoming less afraid of conflict and I have been able to work through so many things that were just simmering under the surface for way too long!

5. I really process best through writing. My thoughts gets so jumbled up in my head and when I write them out not only does it clear up space in my head but I can make sense out of things. I have started writing things down again and it has made all the difference.

6. I absolutely love PaperMate Flair pens!! I got a couple in a writing utensil pack from Costco and now they are my favorite pens! I bought a pack with several different colors.

7. I really need something outside my home to work on and grow as an individual person. I have given so much to my family in the last 18 years that I have started to lose track of my own self. Don’t get me wrong, I love them all dearly! I just need to remember my own voice and use it.

8. Some dreams have to die so that others can grow. I am still sorting out what should stay and what should go. It is definitely a time of transition.

9. I absolutely love taking walks at sunset! So many things I have read talk about getting exercise first thing in the morning and I have tried but there are so many things I need to do first thing in the morning that I haven’t been able to be consistent about it.

What have you learned this summer?

MamaKay

Stitch Fix #4

Spring is finally peaking around the corner so I decided it was time for another Stitch Fix! I can’t wait to hear what you think. It’s so fun to do this with you all!

First up is a light coral polka blouse with some skinny cropped jeans. 

 

Then we have navy blue polka dot dress with a long blue cardigan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally there is a purple flower print blouse that I could wear with or without the cardigan.

 

What is your favorite? Is there anything you would send back?

I’m loving the polka dots and another pretty cardigan. (My hubby says they are going to send one in every color by the time I am done but I just love that look 🙂 )

And if you would like to support my website and want to try Stitch Fix for yourself. Please click the affiliate link below. Thanks!

MamaKay

 

Stitch Fix is an online store that sets you up with a stylist to find clothes for you. You answer questions and they work to match things with your size and style. Each time (you decide how often you get the boxes) you get a box with 5 items in it. You try them on and then have 3 days to decide if you want to keep them. If you don’t like any of them you pay $20 for the stylist fee. You send back the items you don’t want (in a pre-labeled bag they send in the box for free) and pay for the items you keep. If you buy all 5 items you get a reduced price. If you decide you want to try it for yourself please click on my link and I will get a referral credit.

Observing Lent


Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
    learn to do good;
seek justice,
    correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
    plead the widow’s cause.



 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool.


Isaiah 1:16-18


I did not grow up in a church that observed Lent or really any holidays.  We did celebrate Christmas and Easter as a family but without any connections to any religious significance.  As my husband and I began building our family we recognized the helpfulness of establishing traditions that draw our family to the Lord. My husband has proclaimed that we are Protestant Catholic Jews! Above all we seek to draw near to God and enjoy using as many ways as we can to do so.

Some friends invited us to a Passover Seder dinner and the depth of meaning it held for us was so significant that we immediately added it to our family’s traditions. I was then introduced to the idea of Advent was our first entrance into a liturgical practice. It blessed us in so many ways as we took our focus off of gifts and turned our hearts towards embracing Christ’s coming.

A few years ago we began observing Lent. For us it is a time to really focus on our need for our Savior. We attempt (and fail miserably) to fast from certain things turning the 40 days leading up to Easter and we try to add something that will draw us closer to God and/or bless other people. (We were very confused as to why Lent was supposed to be 40 days and yet turns out to be 46 days, evidently Sundays don’t count as fasting days!) I believe that God wants to teach us so many things and that opening ourselves intentionally during this season allows that to happen on a consistent basis.

We don’t force anyone in our family to sacrifice anything but discuss it and share ideas. It is not about legalism. However, it certainly points out our sin and inability to be good on our own and how we all need grace so desperately. In past years we have given up sugar, coffee, Facebook, candy, and complaining just to name a few. This year, I am giving up hitting the snooze button so that I can have time with God first thing in the morning with hopefully fewer interruptions.

I was so excited preparing for Lent this year that I bought two different helps. One is Put On Love Prayer Journal by Elizabeth Foss and the other is You Are Mine: A Study of Isaiah by She Reads Truth. They are both wonderful resources and I would highly recommend either (or both) of them!

I pray that you will draw near to Christ during this season and that we will all see our need for Him everyday and rejoice that has He has already paid the price for our sin and God sees us as white as snow!

MamaKay


What’s Saving My Life Right Now?

This winter has been one for the books. It has had record breaking low temperatures (the coldest since 1978) and days with snow on the ground (54 days and counting). We have been stuck in the snow, had pipes freeze and had teenagers drive off the road and it is only the half way point of winter. And as I write it is snowing once again. So when Modern Mrs. Darcy posted a challenge to list the things that are “Saving my life right now” I knew I needed to participate!

  1. God’s Word – I have been using the She Reads Truth app for my daily Bible reading and it is so encouraging!

  2. Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling devotional book

  3. The little bits of sunshine that shine so brightly on the white landscape of snow

  4. How the full moon lights up the night also reflecting from the white snow

  5. Warm Fires in the Wood Stove

  6. Reading Aloud with my kids (Right now we are reading The Family Under the Bridge)

  7. Reading for Myself. I am doing Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge this year in addition to a few other books. I am trying to read 3 books a month and I accomplished that in January! (I read Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon,The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell and A Place on Earth by Wendell Berry)

  8. Lemon Honey “Tea” – It has been so soothing on my sore throat and warming in the morning too!

  9. Wednesdays are for Baking! I committed to baking bread every week this year and I have done it so far!

  10. Planning a weekend trip with my sisters for my baby sister’s 40th birthday! We have never had a “girls only weekend” and I am so excited!

  11. My bullet journal – I started using one last year and I am hooked even though I had to make some modifications this year.

  12. My Happy Planner – the perfect addition to my bullet journal and I just love using stickers! Who knew?

 

Reflections on Mere Motherhood

This summer I read a wonderful book by homeschooling veteran Cindy Rollins. It is called Mere Motherhood: Morning Times, Nursery Rhymes and My Journey Towards Sanctification. She is the mother of 9 kids. Eight of which were boys. It is a memoir filled with funny stories and peppered with amazing tips and advice for not only homeschooling but mothering through all of the stages of life.

In her book, Cindy Rollins says, ”I am a mother at heart. I build a home, which seems like a place to stay, but really, it is a place to leave. That is the way of it. Children are meant to grow up.” I am a homebody! I could stay home for weeks (and have from time to time) without going stir crazy. I have worked for years to build a home and a connected family. And now I am approaching a new season of life when it is time to let my people go. My oldest is a senior and has already taking steps towards independence. My second daughter has chosen to go to public school and participate in lots of activities. My third daughter is already talking about the next stage of her life even though she is only 13.

Of course, I always knew that my children would grow up. In fact, we have worked hard to help them have the life skills they need to fully function as adults. And yet as the time is approaching I just want a little longer. I want them to want to stay. I want them to value what I value. But they are their own people and they have to find their own ways in the world.

Somehow I thought we could protect them from the world but the truth is that bad things are going to happen. It isn’t even my job to prevent bad things from happening. And it isn’t my fault that bad things will happen. They have their own ideas and their own plans. I just have to keep praying and trusting God that he continue His good work in them. I can’t create children with perfect character and all of the skills they will ever need. But I can love them and create a safe place for them to come home to.

So during these “Driving Years” I am looking for new ways to connect. To use the time I have and to foster our relationships beyond what schoolwork needs done or what chores aren’t complete. As Cindy Rollins talks about,  I want to create a lifeline for our children to our family and to the past so that as they move on into the future so they are not just adrift in the universe. And I am trying to let go of my own expectations of a perfect family and instead put my trust in a perfect God.

 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 1:6


MamaKay

*Mere Motherhood is available from Circe Institute. Here is a link: https://www.circeinstitute.org/store/books/mere-motherhood

Stitch Fix #3

Hi All!

It’s so much fun getting your feedback on my stitch fix boxes! So here we go again. Let me know what you think!

#1 Navy Blue dressIMG_0679


I like the color of the dress but I’m not sure about the shape of it.

 

 

 

 

 

Pieces #2, 3 & 4

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The fabric on the pink & light blue blouse is so soft! The purse is cute but doesn’t really fit any of my stuff. I’m loving the pants though! I had asked for some Capri pants for the summer but they were out so she sent me these “cropped skinny cargo jeans.” The front pockets actually fit my Galaxy Phone!!

 

 

 

Piece #5

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The last piece is a studded navy blue and white blouse. The opinions on this one vary in our household. I think the fit is good on me but I’m not sure about the design. Can you see the studs in this picture? They are around the arms and the bib.

 

 

I love hearing your opinions! So what do you think should I keep or let go?


Thanks for your help!

MamaKay

Stitch Fix is an online store that sets you up with a stylist to find clothes for you. You answer questions and they work to match things with your size and style. Each time (you decide how often you get the boxes) you get a box with 5 items in it. You try them on and then have 3 days to decide if you want to keep them. If you don’t like any of them you pay $20 for the stylist fee. You send back the items you don’t want (in a pre-labeled bag they send in the box for free) and pay for the items you keep. If you buy all 5 items you get a reduced price. If you decide you want to try it for yourself please click on my link and I will get a referral credit.

Banana Pecan Pancakes with Buttermilk Syrup

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We have pancakes nearly every Friday and we love to mix it up. This recipe is very versatile. I added bananas and chopped pecans this week but you could add blueberries, chocolate chips, strawberries, bacon crumbles or anything you like to make it your own. When I was a little girl my dad would make pancakes on Sunday morning and would add different ingredients and we had to guess what it was. I remember once he added red licorice! We were all surprised!

Pancakes


Makes 24 pancakes


3 cups flour (I like fresh ground soft wheat)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar

3 eggs

3 cups milk (I prefer soured raw milk)

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup smashed banana (or berries or whatever add-in you like)

1/4 cup chopped nuts

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

  2. Whisk the wet ingredients together

  3. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and let soak for at least 5 minutes if you are using whole grain flour

  4. Heat the griddle or skillet.

  5. Melt a little butter on the griddle and pour 1/3 cup of batter per pancake. Then sprinkle your special ingredients on each pancake. (With these pancakes I mixed the banana into all of the batter and then sprinkled the nuts on each pancake)

  6. When the pancake gets dry around the edges and the bubbles begin to pop, flip the pancake and finish cooking on the second side.

  7. Serve warm with butter and syrup.

 Buttermilk Syrup

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup butter

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons vanilla

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the first 6 ingredients.

  2. Bring to a boil and boil for 7 minutes.

  3. Remove from heat.

  4. Stir in the vanilla.

  5. Stores well in the refrigerator.

Yield: 2 cups

*NOTES: This really bubbles up so make sure you use a big enough pan also it gets very hot! Make sure to use caution around small children so they don’t get burned wanting to taste the yummy syrup until it cools a bit.

Enjoy!

MamaKay


 

Stitch Fix Box #2

I’m so excited I got my second Stitch Fix Box today! Do you want to help me decide what to keep? I would love your input!

Piece #1 Graphic Print Wrap Dress

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My 12 year old thought it needed a hat. I never would have picked this out but I think it actually looks pretty good on me.

Piece #2  Purple Split Neck Blouse

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I’m not quite sure about the color or the style of this shirt. What do you think?

Pieces #3, 4 & 5 and my favorite outfit!

20160217_111004This outfit is comprised of some dark straight leg jeans (that actually fit me!!), a navy blue knit top and a grey asymmetrical zip cardigan that drapes when open.
IMG_0478 Here’s what the cardigan looks like zipped up. It’s kind of weird zipped up but I think I would always wear it open. The fabric is so soft and I love that it has pockets!!20160217_111038

Here you can see the navy striped knit top by itself with the jeans.

Stitch Fix is an online store that sets you up with a stylist to find clothes for you. You answer questions and they work to match things with your size and style. Each time (you decide how often you get the boxes) you get a box with 5 items in it. You try them on and then have 3 days to decide if you want to keep them. If you don’t like any of them you pay $20 for the stylist fee. You send back the items you don’t want (in a pre-labeled bag they send in the box for free) and pay for the items you keep. If you buy all 5 items you get a reduced price. If you decide you want to try it for yourself please click on my link and I will get a referral credit.

So what do you think? I will let you know what I decide!

Thanks for your help!

MamaKay

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