Thursday, December 27, 2018

A Quick Christmas Visit from My Dad and Debby

Dad, Deb, and Lily and Amara with all their gifts
It was the day after Christmas.  Dad and Debby were on their way to a wedding for Debby's niece in Colorado, and would be passing by my neck of the woods.  Well, you can imagine that I didn't want that opportunity to pass by without seeing them!  They came bearing gifts galore for our girls.  Debby said, "I may have gotten a few more for your girls this year than usual."  It's just they don't get to see us as often, so the gifts pile up.

I wish I had a photo of all the gifts they opened.  It was so fun having a second Christmas morning with the girls getting a whole new wardrobe with the cute finds Debby is known for. 
Just trying out a new "portrait" setting on my phone camera
 They couldn't stay long, but we were able to visit a minute as they ate breakfast with us.  We served them "stacked eggs." It was a food network recipe I read about last year sometime, where you take scrambled eggs, stack them on a slice of toast, pour homemade cheese sauce over the top, then stack on your choice of toppings.  Our toppings included saute'ed peppers and onions, sour cream, grated cheese, salsa, sliced green onions.  We also had some fruits they could grab too.

Before they left, the girls put on one of the outfits they got and modeled them for grandma and grandpa.  Lily just loved this grey shirt she got. She's grown out of so many of her clothes this past year.  She has definitely hit a growth spurt.
Lily's favorite shirt
We're so thankful for the gifts and for the wonderful gift of time we got to share with my dad and Deb!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve

Both my girls shared with me their fun ideas for Christmas Eve.  They came up with them individually on their own and what was funny was that their plans were almost identical!  Their lists both looked like a good plan to me, so we planned on it, but we didn't stick to the plan completely. 

We did end up watching a Christmas movie, A Christmas Carol, and having game night, hot cocoa, open pjs, and looking at Christmas lights.  I love looking at the Christmas lights, it's something my family always did on Christmas Eve when I was growing up.  We often drove all the way to Osmond Lane in Provo because everyone put up lights, but as the years went on, more and more cars had the same idea so it got crowded, and Osmond Lane started putting up less and less.  I don't think it's the same anymore.  With my own little family, we now pile in our van and have 2 places we like to go, the "Christmas House" on North Crescent Road (also known as the Halloween House), and "the street by the Golf Course," which is a long cul-de-sac that displays the Christmas story from the Bible on little signs in front of each house.  We each take turns reading the signs, and it's so nice to read the real Christmas story on Christmas Eve.

Here's some PJ pictures of my cute kids!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Garden Goodness From This Year

Selfie with prize-sized carrot and golden beet! 
 This post is a compilation of pictures that represent what our garden was like this past year.  We planted in late May, let things grow, then harvested.
A huge parsnip root with lots of legs I pulled off when washing it

Roasted red and purple potatoes, roma tomatoes, and golden-zebra and green zucchini

Amara's selfie with her parsnip soup and rolls

Parsnip soup and rolls
We canned the following:
Tomato Juice
Grandma Edna's Dill pickles
Pints of Tomatoes
Pickled Beets
Dilly Beans
Mrs. Wages Salsa
Quarts of Whole Tomatoes

We froze the following:
Sliced Yellow Zebra Zucchini
Cubes of Tomato Paste
Blanched Aspabroc
Blanched Chard
Sliced Boiled Beets
Cinnamon Zucchini Muffin batter (ready to bake in individual cups)
Mini Zucchini bread loaves (some whole wheat, some white flour)
Sliced Zucchini mix
Pole beans
Sliced Peppers and onions (I bought the onions at the store)
When I felt done preserving for the season, I laid out all the jars and frozen veggies for their own picture.
 I borrowed a steam juicer and tried it for the tomato juice.  It sure makes a very clear liquid.  I'm glad I only borrowed it and didn't purchase one because after having tried it, I prefer the other method outlined in the Ball Blue Book.  It's more efficient and even though the juice is cloudy-red, I kinda like that.
Amara helping drain the juice from the steamer into the pot.

Clear tomato juice

I made it redder by blending up the tomatoes and straining the remaining juice.

Tomato juice coming to temperature

One of our 20 pound watermelons!

More melons!  We love gifting them to neighbors and friends.

After our big end of harvest picking- We worked for an hour picking and picking.

We grew our cabbage under the cover of screens, but when we were gone, the wind blew and there were gaps in the screens where bugs got in and feasted.  Do you see the cabbage worm on the screen?  The cabbage bed was a failure this year.  I think we got 1 cabbage out of the 20 or so we planted.

Steve inspecting a little cabbage head for bugs

Me pulling off and disposing of the large outer leaves of infested cabbage.

Lamenting the failed cabbages.  Actually, more like trying to get the motivation to clean that bed out.  We had flat dutch and golden acre cabbage, Tronchuda and purple oblong cabbage, purple brussel sprouts, and aspabroc (the only thing we really got to harvest)

Another view of the cabbage bed.  It was covered in netting, but also shade ag-fabric that keeps the soil cool in the summer since these crops like that.  The plants loved it I think because they grew well. The aphids and cabbage moths were also loving it because I think they were protected from predators and they flourished as well. 

A box of tomatoes we filled

Steve standing by the pole beans and cucumbers we tried growing up the trellis.  The pole beans were volunteer plants from last year.

This fish friend likes to party with the chard and parsnips.

This is what it looks like when parsnips go to seed.  Those were also volunteers from last year.

Our lovely pepper bed.  Growing sweet bell peppers of all colors, Yolo peppers, cherry, and corbaci, and hot jalapenos.

Amara picking peppers

Me donning the sun-stay-away look.  You'll notice me wearing a kitchen towel around my neck with a black sensor on it.  That was part of a study Amara and I were in.  The sensor measures our UVray exposure.  I was trying to protect my skin from the harmful sun.

She's finding all kinds of pretty peppers.


Daddy trying some peppers

He liked the look of the purple bells.

The hideous cabbage

Here you can see a little head of purple cabbage which we did pick, but after discarding the outer leaves, it was only about the size of a softball.

Can you find the peppers?

Parsnips and chard grew at the end of the pepper bed.

Tomatoes up close

Steve and I gathering in the tomatoes

Yes, they are difficult to get sometimes.  This is why the ideal size for a row/bed is 3 feet wide, so you can reach the middle when it's time to harvest.  P.S. someone needs to invent some gardening pants that are sturdy like jeans in the backside and knees, yet breathable and bendable and stay up when you're constantly bending over.

Our potatoes plants were starting to die off.  It would've been the perfect time to harvest them, but we didn't because we were exhausted with the other harvesting.  Plus potatoes can wait as long as the ground doesn't freeze.  Unfortunately our ground did freeze before we harvested very many, but we got about half of them that were still good.

A wider look at the garden with the melons we harvested.

2 types of melons- Dixie Queen and Sugar Baby

This is the actual melon bed.  We have 8 hills of melons or squash.  We planted some marigolds as they were supposed to deter squash bugs.  I don't think they deterred enough.  We sill had to spray the pests frequently with dishsoap solution and I even used a more persistent pesticide this year since we were away from the garden for weeks at a time.

Steve finding ready tomatoes

Me finding ready tomatoes.  The round ones are Rutgers.  The oblong are Romas.

Some of Amara's pickings of mini tomatoes and cucumbers

Mom joined us in our gardening efforts.

Look at the happy beans!  Too bad my family isn't really big into green beans.  I like them though.

  I'm picking a few beets.  That bed between my mom and I is planted with beets on one end and carrots on the other.  We would've planted more carrots, but we ran out of seeds, so we only had a little patch.  Usually I have several pounds of carrots that take up a large portion of our fridge and last until February or March, but not this year.  We ran out in November.  The beets and the carrots were big and beautiful.  Amara did a great job spacing the seeds out during planting so they had room to grow.
I made golden raisins for the first time, thanks to my friend Marne who gave us a large sack of homegrown grapes!

Amara holding her prize-sized strawberry

I read on An Oregon Cottage blog about preserving zucchini as muffin batter in your freezer.  It works wonderfully!  I wish I had done more!
Zucchini muffin batter

Veggies all from our garden, including the purple chive blossoms in the ranch

A simple type of open faced grilled cheese with broccoli (aspabroc from our garden)

Cabbage and carrot slaw and watermelon also from the garden!

 One of our harvests from this summer after the tomatoes started to get red.  I could go out once a week and bring in a full, heavy basket of veggies.


Look how huge that purple radish got!
 Apparently our apple tree gave us apples this year.  These were little, but ready in July!

 There were so many hornets all over the apples and that tree that I didn't really dare get too close.  Most of the apples were eaten by them.
And those are the photos we took throughout the summer/fall of our beautiful garden.  We were blessed and were able to gift garden freshness to friends and neighbors, which we love.