Friday, September 25, 2009

best friends

Yesterday I found my lil girl, and then my lil boy, having some one-on-one time with their very best friend....

"The dog was created specially for children. He is the god of frolic." - Henry Ward Beecher
"I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive." - Gilda Radner

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

wordless wednesday

Fall is beginning to burst forth....

But some flowers are hangin' in there....

Fall's peak color is yet to come....

Sunday, September 13, 2009

forget...and forgive

I really hate forgetting things. And anyone who knows me well, knows I forget a lot of things. My brain just didn't come built with a good memory whatever that grey matter is (I forget everything I learned in any science-related class)..... I hate forgetting to write a thank you note, to tell someone I appreciate something they did, to call or email someone to wish them a happy birthday, to return books at the library, to pay someone back, to, well, to do anything forgetful. But no matter how much I hate forgetting, I still forget. Too many things.

Things like a boiling canner on my stove top. Mr. Incredible and I awoke to an explosion at 5:30am this morning. Being Mr. Incredible, he leaped out of bed and ran downstairs (while I sat bleary eyed in my "slow mo" morning stupor). I finally came to my senses and grabbed the phone as I walked downstairs wondering if I needed to call 911 (I thought it was a robber). As I walked downstairs, the fire alarms went off (good to know they work!). I walked into the kitchen to find tomatoes E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E. You name it, there was tomato on it. See...we had spent our Saturday evening canning more tomatoes (yes, more). When it was bedtime for my bonzos, I went upstairs to kiss them goodnight and that was the last I saw of my kitchen for the night. Completely forgetting that I had 7 jars of tomatoes in boiling water on my stove top. TEN HOURS LATER, I remembered....with a little help from the exploding jars.

So, since I've been pretty upset with myself about it all day, I thought I would blog about it because more often than not, horrible experiences like this make for a good story. Although I'm not quite at the "laugh about it" stage -- yet -- I know writing about it might give someone else a laugh. And providing a laugh at my expense is something I'm pretty good at. Remembering things is not something I am good at. I hope you are more forgiving of my forgetfulness than I am.

Oh...and yes, I did can 7 jars of beets before I ruined the tomatoes. I made my first ever batch of pickled beets and, lemme tell you, they are YUMMY!!!! Here are the only pics I took (I forgot to take more...):

Thursday, September 10, 2009

canning maters

I've decided to give my first "blog tutorial". I canned tomatoes for the first time a couple weekends ago (and again this past weekend) and I couldn't believe how easy it was, so I'm hoping to inspire someone out there to do it too. It's SO dang easy. With some tips I learned, it's even easier.....

1) Ask a tall, hunky guy to rinse the tomatoes (rinsing the tomatoes isn't absolutely necessary, but if you happen to find some hunk of a man willing to do it, why not?)

2) Lay out tomatoes on towels. (Again, not absolutely necessary, but if you're going to rinse them, this makes clean up a LOT easier! Not to mention the towel keeps the maters from continually rolling off the counter.)

3) In a pot of boiling water, plop in a few tomatoes. Leave them in for about 30 to 60 seconds. It all depends on how ripe they are as to how long to leave them in, so I just take them out when I see the skin popping open. If you take them out too soon, it makes step 5 a lot more difficult. If you take them out too late, it makes step 5 a lot more messy. That's why I only plopped in a few at a time -- it's easier to tell if they are ready if there are fewer in the pot.

4) Plop the tomatoes in a bowl of ice water. This cools them off quickly so you can move on to the next step more quickly.

5) Core and peel the tomatoes (I found it more efficient to core THEN peel the tomatoes). If the tomatoes were in the boiling water long enough, the skins just slip off the tomatoes. If they weren't, you have some time-consuming peeling to do. If they were in the boiling water too long, you've got yourself a mushy tomato, but very easy to peel and still good to can. Again, put a towel on the counter as this is a VERY messy step and towel soaks up a lot of the juice that will otherwise be all over that counter, the floor, your shoes, etc.....

6) Cut the tomatoes -- chop, cut in quarters or halves, or even leave them whole, it doesn't matter. Whatever you want to do is fine. However, more fits in the jar if you cut them up a bit. I hope you have a lot of old towels cuz a towel under the cutting board is also advisable for the same reason as in step 5. It's a lot easier to throw towels in the laundry than to wipe all your counters, floor, and shoes, for a good 15 minutes once the canning is complete.

7) After sterilizing the jars and lids (just put the cleaned jars and lids in the big pot/canner of boiling water for a minute or so), fill the jars with the tomatoes. You don't have to, but you can add about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each jar along with a couple fresh basil leaves to add a little bit of flavor. With a wooden spoon (a metal one might react to the acidic tomatoes), press the tomatoes down to get all the air bubbles out. Be sure to leave about a 1/2 inch space at the top so the jars don't explode in the next step. Wipe the rim of the jars and put the lids on.

8) Put the filled jars in the boiling water of a large pot or canner, if you have one. Make sure that about 1 inch of water is covering the jars. Leave them in the boiling water for 45 minutes.

9) Voila! You've got yourself a jar of some delicious and nutritious tomatoes for the cold winter months!! YUM! I can not WAIT to try mine. However, I have a lot more tomatoes ready to pick and eat and cook with -- or even can some more! -- in our garden, so I won't be opening any jars for a while.....

This weekend I'll be canning beets! I hope it's as easy as canning maters......

Friday, September 4, 2009

sunburn and ice cream

Today was our last "Friday Beach Day"...and I put sunscreen on everywhere but my lil girl's face. We went to get ice cream after dinner as our "last hurrah" of summer. My girl made good use of the chocolate to complement the redness.

Here's a closer up look.... Nice, eh? Check out the skirt. Real nice.

I'm going to miss everything about summer -- the beach, ice cream, evening play after dinner in the light of the sunset, fun with friends and family, everything. Hopefully next year I will be better about the sunscreen.

Happy Labor Day weekend everyone! The official end to summer.... *sigh*