Wow...it's been forever since I've posted on my blog, it seems. I miss it! But, we've just been so busy lately. Summer is here, and we've spent a very nice week at the beach - including a week long internet fast - a week at my Mom's, and then we've been getting ready for Vacation Bible School, Natalie's end of the year Little Flower's Party, and a Catholic Girls' Summer Camp that I help coordinate. And, we participate in our local library's summer reading activities. So, despite the fact that school is out, life has just been crazy busy! But, that's ok...that's what life is for. On the plus side, I've been really lax with our schedule, so we've been able to enjoy some laziness and "sleep in" (anything past 7 a.m. is late here, but I guess it's all relative). In fact, it's 11:15, and I'm still in my pajamas! (Don't judge me...you know you're jealous...just kidding ;). My favorite thing is that every morning, the kids all come climb in bed with me and we just lounge around and talk, or cuddle, or sometimes fight, depending on our moods ;). We've also been enjoying a fairly decent sized blow up pool that I got at Target. That pool does wonders to cool you off on these hot summer days!
On the home front, we've been enjoying lots of summer vegetables from our garden! I'm so excited about this. We've been eating snow peas (those finished producing around the end of April), cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, bell peppers, and green beans. I was actually really surprised at how many strawberries we've been getting. The plants were brand new, and we've been picking a handful every couple of days. Rachel has been in hog heaven over here =) She LOVES those things. Actually, she'll eat just about anything we pick from the garden, which is awesome! Her favorites are the strawberries and cucumbers, though. I wish the older two were that way. Andrew turns green just looking at them, and Natalie will eat a very limited amount, and then only if there is an ice cream cone waiting at the end of a clean plate. Oh well...we'll keep trying, and hopefully they'll grow into loving fresh vegetables eventually. And, soon, we'll be harvesting the corn, squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, and watermelon. Well, hopefully...I've never actually planted cantaloupe or watermelon before, so I don't know if they'll actually make anything. But, the plants look really healthy, and they have baby fruits on them! All my harvest pictures are on my camera...in my diaper bag...in my van...which my husband took to work today, so I'll have to come back later and add them, but I do have some pictures of us making pickles! I planted some of the pickling cucumbers as well as the slicing ones, so I gave canning a try. It was pretty fun! Addicting, you might say. And, the pickles were so good...I'm ready to make some more. I used this recipe for Dill Pickles...I'm not much of a bread and butter type gal. I followed it pretty closely, except I used dried dill, because I couldn't find fresh. I think I put almost 2 t. of dried dill, which makes for a VERY strong dill flavor, but that's how we like them. I also added some thin sliced onion, and about 6 small cloves of garlic per jar. I let Phil take 3 jars and make them spicy, so he did some doctoring up to those (I think he put Chipotle Hot Sauce in one, and sliced jalapenos in the other two). We really like them, and I recommend the recipe, but I don't think the recipe actually follows proper canning methods, so you may want to be careful there. I'm probably going to adjust the procedure for the next batch of pickles this week.
Our first cucumber:
Slicing up the pickles:
Filling the jars:
All ready for the brine solution:
My improper canning method (they're *supposed* to be totally submerged...oh well):
All done and cooling!!:
I Also found this beauty:
Farm raised pork chops! Talk about good!!! I made pork chops with rice and gravy (we're from south Louisiana....rice and gravy goes with anything!). We cashed in on the larger of our pigs, and brought him to the butcher. We ended up with 23 lbs. of smoked sausage (which makes a fantastic rice dressing!), 33 lbs. of breakfast sausage, 27 lbs of pork roast (7 roasts all together), 26 lbs of 1" thick pork chops (there were 36 pork chops in all - I wish we had cut them a tad thinner, and gotten more chops out of it, though), 5 lbs. of spare ribs, and 8.5 lbs. of thick cut bacon). If you've never had farm raised pork, you are missing out. I almost can't bring myself to buy it in the store anymore. And, now, I don't need to!
Well, that is what we've been up to so far this summer. I love summer! It's my favorite =)