Canning

Oh, hello there!

I have been busy blogging over at, Where Feet May Fail after the sudden passing of my father, but did want to get back to you guys and the happenings of life in Minnesota.

Our daughter has gone back to school already and is in the 1st grade and loving it! Last year she was the last class in Minnesota of 1/2 day Kindergarteners, and now all schools must provide all day kindergarten to all of their students. The transition in to a full day of learning leaves our little one tired, but also excited for learning! We can’t wait to see how she grows this next year!

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I’ve been signing up for the “Pick of the Week” program at Minnesota Fresh Farm which has proved to be an invaluable find this summer! Each week I pick up $25-30 worth of produce for just $20. I have been getting fresh cucumbers (since mine went to crap), tomatoes (since mine went to crap), green beans, peas, corn, and more! We’ve gotten so many cucumbers I decided this weekend to make pickles! I’ve never made pickles before, but thought I’d give it ago. I had two different recipes making for two different kinds of pickles.

Traditional Easy Refrigerator Pickles.

IMG_2656 My co-worker Breanne who blogs over at Borealis ~ Northern Life passed down her grandmothers recipe to me! I felt like I had won the lottery because aren’t grandmothers recipes the best, and always completely delicious!

It called for:
7 c. very thinly sliced cucumbers (into very thin coins) – Approximately 4-5 cucumbers.
1 c. sliced onion (I rough chopped mine since my husband hates onions, but doesn’t mind the flavor)
1/2 c. green pepper/cut lengthwise
2 T. Salt
1 T. Celery seed

Mix all together and place in 1 quart canning jars.

In a small saucepan heat until boiling together:
2 C. Sugar
1 C. White Vinegar

Pour sugar/vinegar mixture over the cucumbers in the canning jars to the top and refrigerate.

I have no idea how long they take to “cure” – so I need to find that out. They are so pretty however right?

Fresh Pickles
I found this baby on my favorite website – Pinterest! Of course it is complements of the blog Red Star Lone Star.
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2lbs small cucumbers ( I used regular size and just cut in half and then cut into quarters spears or more)
1 bunch fresh dill
Several cloves peeled and thinly sliced
4 cups (1 liter) unflavored club soda/carbonated water
3 tablespoons salt

Trim the ends off cucumbers. Layer cucumbers, dill and garlic in a glass container. Dissolve salt in water, pour over the cucumbers to cover them completely. Cover and brine in refrigerator at least 24 hours.

Apparently the carbonated water is supposed to make the pickles extra crunchy! I’m actually not a big fan of pickles… but my husband loves them, so I thought why not try something new. Plus homesteading is so much fun!

JAM packed Saturday!

Miss K was supposed to have a soccer tournament today, but with most of the fields still saturated the tourney was called off. So we decided to head up to Minnesota Fresh Farm, and handpick strawberries. Neither me or my daughter had ever picked berries before today, and it was on my goals to continue to fill up her memory bucket! After we take home our haul and make jam we’re headed out to the Minnesota Zoo with Jason’s brother Jeremiah and his girlfriend Amillie for a fun filled family day!

(Scroll down for all the pic’s)

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Woke up early and headed to the farm up the road! We’re going to make homemade jam today before we head out to the zoo!

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Me and my girl being strawberry pickers! We were the first ones to pick this year! (They don’t open for appointments until tomorrow, but they let us sneak in! ~ Thank You!)

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Working on getting lots of berries for homemade freezer jam!

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Look at that load! We have lots for jam and plenty to spare for a chicken strawberry salad tomorrow on Arugula and Kale!

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Destemed, slicked and now time to mash mash mash!

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Starting to look like jelly, or the beginning of strawberry wine!

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Time to stir in the sugar and pectin!

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And finally scoop all of that into jars. Let sit for 30 minutes, and then pop them into the freezer! Easy as… JAM!

Minnesota – Week 24

Welcome to the start of summer! You’d hardly even know that it was summer instead of late September by the wet and rainy weather we’ve been having, but I can’t complain too much, we’ve hardly had to turn on our wall unit air-conditioner, so its all relative I suppose. Today was actually very hot and muggy though. Here’s what’s new with us!

Chicks

The chicks have finally gone to roost in their new home, and it couldn’t have come a moment sooner. They now have many of their real feathers and have lost a lot of their down. They are approximately three weeks now and are on a grower ration of food. (Not medicated)  Today one even flew the coop when I was changing their water in the brooder, so it was definitely time to move to their new digs. They now have a lot of space to roam around in, and I think my husband can’t be happier that the project is done and now he can actually enjoy his evenings. I love him so much for it. The chicks are very happy too!

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We have our eye on you Sadie!

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Enjoying their new home and french window.

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Checking outside! They really love it outside.

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Staredown between Sadie & Naomi

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Looking to get snuggly for the night.

Family

We are all doing great. Little miss is nearly done with school, and I can hardly believe she will be done with kindergarten! Where did the time go? I’m learning as I get older and as my child gets older the time just FLIES. She is now reading level 2 and 3 books, can count to 100 and can add and subtract. She of course learned many other things throughout the year but these were the highlights. Now we get six weeks off until 1st grade! I will post more after her last day.

Soccer

This summer we (little Miss) is playing soccer, and its been going fairly well. She is still very distracted, but what can you expect from a six year old that has never played before? K is more interested in making friends on the field on both teams than kicking the ball, but at least she is having fun. The coach has only scheduled one practice so far, and its quite evident that the other teams have scheduled more practices. The team we played today had a Nazi coach that yelled the entire game. not in a mean way, but very “Dance Moms(esque)”. Click on the link… I’m not even kidding that’s how the other team’s coach yelled the entire game! It was kind of wild. I doubt she was “on crack” though…

That’s all for this week. I hope everyone is having an awesome week!

Minnesota – Week 22

This is a chicken farm…. and we’re the chickens!

 

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I am so excited about this post! After weeks months of planning we finally have our chicken operation up and running! We finally got our chickens in. After pouring over several articles from Pinterest, and other websites we chose the Isa Browns/Red Stars which are very friendly/docile mega egg layers, and are supposed to do very well over the winter months continuing to lay the eggs. Now I realize that our family of seven just went to a family of 12, but our chicks whom we’ve named Beatrice, Anita, Ginger, Natalie and Babs will give us something nobody else is… FOOD! These will JUST be for eggs, and companionship of course. Our meat chicks are being raised by our friends who have more acreage.

Beatrice, Anita, Ginger Natalie and Babs arrived to the Elk River post office just this morning and our friend Phil was kind enough to pick them up. We drove over to their house tonight to get them and bring them home. They went peep peep peep the whole way home!

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Beatrice, Anita, Ginger Natalie and Babs – Day old Pullets

Currently they’re all huddled around the lamp taking a nap. They’ve had a very long day of hatching and travel from Iowa at Hoover’s Hatchery.

(I just went and checked on them, and they’ve woken up! They’re currently chasing the little mosquitos that have gotten in the brooder and are happily feasting on little bugs and their food of course!)

To start with we just got our basic brooding supplies as they will live in the brooder for the first several weeks anyways.

Supplies we needed:
Like I said, to start off with – we just needed the very basics, so we got the following:

* Brooder Box
* Heat Lamp – I had a 60w bulb, but it didn’t feel very warm so I switched to a 100w.
I will check it before I go to bed and in the morning.
* Water Container
* Food Container
* Large pine shavings
* Thermometer (I still have yet to get – apparently 100 degrees is the magic number)
* Feed

Eventually they will have to move into the coop, but we’re undecided about building one from scratch or getting the 1/2 built ones from Fleet Farm. We’ll probably build our own, and I really want Jason to build this one, although I really like this style too!!!! Eh- we’ve got time.

Farmers Market

Pam, Maggie & I all headed down to the Minneapolis Farmers Market last weekend to get our plants. I got Cilantro, Basil, Celery, Rosemary, Lemon Verbena, Asparagus, Jalapanos, Habeneros, and a tomato plant. I have already harvested some of the basil and it tastes divine!

Yard Work

We’ve (and by we’ve I really mean Jason) have been hitting it hard in the backyard! Jason built a pavers ring around our firepit in the back, and has been working on some retaining walls. Soon he will bring home a dump truck of wood chips to fill in the blanks! Once semi complete I will take some pictures.

New favorite wines

I have had a love – hate – love relationship with Pinot Noir. As many red wine drinkers can attest this “gateway to reds” wine is a favorite among many novice drinkers. After trying much heavier, bolder, drier wine I began to HATE pinot Noir, but recently I have had a few amazing ones!
> Erath
> redtree (thanks to my dear friend who got this for me… yes it is VERY drinkable)

My favorite wine to date has got to be Summers Charbono! It is absolutely spectacular and VERY much worth the $25 price tag. I also very much love the Reserve Bonpas Chateauneuf du Pape, but at $40 a bottle, its a “treat”. Currently however Bota Box is on sale at the liquor store for $14.99 so this girl has been drinking plenty of that! By the end of summer I really want to try Chateau Montelena’s famous Chardonnay!

Minnesota – Week 18

Pinterest in Action! ~ Prepping the garden!

Today is an absolutely glorious day for Minnesota weather! With temperatures flirting with 60 it was a great day to get out and do some yard work and prep my garden! I grabbed the rake and removed all of the dead plants and debris, and pulled a few weeds. I also turned over some of the soil as to bring up some of the nitrogen from the bottom.

First I hauled an old screen door we found up in our rafters out to my garden. I wanted to give my garden a more homey feeling, and after looking on my favorite website  Pinterest. I have a few ideas.

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Next after seeing myriad pallet ideas on Pinterest and after my husband came home with a truck full of pallets, I moved this baby to the garden to use as a green bean and pea trellis.
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I then headed to Fleet Farm where I picked up an aluminum mailbox to keep my gardening tools and gloves in! There is nothing worse than heading out to the garden only to realize that your tools and gloves are scattered about. Now I have them all in one convenient place! To make it more rustic feeling – on of our trees snapped this winter due to the brutal winds and heavy snow we endured, so I repurposed the tree as my mailbox stand!

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Lastly – here is the whole finished product! Now I just need some consistency in the sun so I can plant my garden!

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