Sunday, September 25, 2011

Canning season is here

I started canning this season in early July... Thankfully the fruits and vegetables staggered themselves enough that until this weekend I've been able to keep up.  My husband and my youngest are great about using the Kabota tractor and the large wheel barrow to haul stuff to the back patio for me to work as much as possible outside to save heating up the house. I am also doing all my water bath processing on a propane burner as it heats up the water faster and doesn't use electricity.. My husband filled the tank for me and said, " Let's see how far that gets you then we will decide if we fill it again." I'm still on the first fill and nearing the end of the processing.

In an effort to save money and feed my family healthy foods I decided to fill our pantry with as much home canned produce as possible. I planted 13 tomato plants, 8 cabbages, 2 zucchini, a row of beets, a row of broccoli, Swish Chard, cucumbers, and lettuce.  The zucchini has been steadily producing fruit for over 2 months now and we have been cooking it in a variety of different ways, I also made 2 batches of pineapple zucchini.  I joined our local county gleaners program and have been blessed with blueberries, lots of cauliflower, cabbage, some corn, lots of yellow zucchini, corn, and a nice bag of garlic (not sure on the variety but it is smaller than the elephant garlic and a little zippier.). I was also able to purchase a little over 40 pounds of peaches at a discount through Gleaners so I filled jars with peaches in light syrup , dried a bunch , and froze some.  Until tonight I had been storing my empty jars on the top shelf in the pantry.  Tonight I pulled down the last 4 quarts and 3 half gallon jars in order to fill them with pears from my Parent's trees. I moved some of the jars around and put some over flow on top (extra vegetable relish and chili sauce). I will probably store the apple juice I made last week in half gallon jars up there as well.  I have a batch of sauerkraut on the middle shelf tucked back in the darker area fermenting (I checked it tonight and it appears to be doing quite nicely.)  I didn't get a picture of it , but I have 24 quarts of tomatoes (sauce, stewed, pureed) on a center shelf ready to make just about anything. I also processed 9 quarts of salsa for cooking and put it on the top shelf.  I have searched online for new recipes to try and always seem to return to the basics. I try and keep it simple with things I can water bath process. I love my steam juicer for fruit juice. The boys love the juice and if I end up with too much, I can make jelly during the winter. I am working toward a grocery bill reduction.. The goal being we only need to buy meat and dairy and get the bill down to $50 a week except for non food items and then watch for really good sales and coupons.

Friday, September 16, 2011

MomPact Blog Hop: ezShade Review and Giveaway

I am so glad you stopped by. I want to introduce you to Linda Varga. She is a mom inventor and responsible for creating the ezShade.  ezShade is UV protection that attaches to a beach umbrella or a pop-up canopy.  I received both as part of the MomPact Blog Hop and have enjoyed reviewing this product.  At the bottom of this post you will have the chance to win one for yourself.   

I was happy with the product. I first tried the umbrella ezShade. We have a dark green umbrella so I picked a green shade. The greens are very different but overall the ezShade did a great job adding shade to the area. I was a little disappointed with the sticky velcro pieces. They were small and I had to reapply them a couple of times. I would have liked to see them a little larger.  I love the fact that it is light weight  and easy to set up. It is also adjustable height wise so if we tip the umbrella to an angle I can adjust the length of the shade at the bottom with velcro tape. Also being able to weight it down along the bottom adds stability.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

#MomPact bonus giveaway, have you entered?

I am so excited that I get to give either an ezShade umbrella or canopy shade to one of my lucky readers as part of the Mompact Blog Hop! Over 120 blogs are participating over 150 prizes up for grabs and Mompact is now sweetening the pot with extra big prizes! Today's giveaway for $100 cash!

Check out Mompact on Facebook and go to under Giveaways for more surprises including a huge gift basket giveaway!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

#ClearAmerican football inspired lunch for hungry kids

Over the summer we have been enjoying Clear American sparkling flavored water from Walmart.
I love the fact that Clear American has no food coloring and zero calories. The boys love soda style beverages but so often they are full of color and sugar.  Clear American has no food coloring.  I am anxiously looking for the Clear American Naturals that is sweetened with Ste-via rather than the Aspartame, but for now we are thoroughly enjoying the Clear American we have tried so far.

During the week I picked up 48 lbs of peaches along with harvesting tomatoes and zucchini from our garden. I am always looking for something drink and while I tend to splurge on Coke or Diet Coke, I have been reaching for the Clear American more and more, especially since it doesn't have caffiene.  I love the late summer and early fall for harvesting and can't wait to try Clear American in some of my fall recipes.

 This past week Social Fabric had a College Football themed week that inspired my boys. One is an Oregon State Beavers fan and One is a University of Oregon Ducks fan which means we blend lots of Orange and Yellow.  Feeding 2 hungry boys during the harvest season can be hard, especially when they want fancy lunches. Well I think I found the answer this week with Clear American peach floats and jumbo raviolis. The boys call the raviolis football pasta because it is so huge. I picked up everything I needed (except for the peaches) at my local Walmart  on an evening kid free shopping trip. Usually I have the boys with me when I shop but since I was in town at a meeting and didn't have the boys with me, I decided to take advantage of a late night dash to the store to pick up some miscellaneous items including the Clear American. I was amazed at the shelves, usually fully stocked , the selection was limited, but still all the flavors I enjoy where there.

Digestive Health a journey

It has been just over a week since I started taking the 4x Probiotic from Member's Mark.  When I started this journey I knew the benefits of probiotics but needed an easier way to remember to take them.  A couple of things really helped me in that. First the pill form, for some reason remembering to get the powder out of the refrigerator just wasn't happening. Second the pills are bubble sealed in sheets with the days of the week printed on the back , seriously could the have made it any easier for me,probably not...
Member's Mark® 4X Probiotic - 84 ct.
After only 3 days I started to notice a difference. My stomach and digestive tract wasn't making as many noises. It all seemed to settle better. I also notice a change in how things smell (especially me personally). When I posted the first part of this journey I told you I was going to be honest. I noticed that I didn't smell as sour. I don't know how else to explain it, it wasn't a sweet smell just a natural smell. This late summer has been hot here, we normally see September temps in the 70's over the past 11 days we have seen more 90 + degree days then we have had all year.  I know for some that isn't really hot but for us it is... Needless to say a girl working outside in the garden and harvesting produce gets really hot in 80-90+ degree heat and tends to sweet some... so I noticed that change. I also noticed that I wasn't craving as much sugar. I don't know if the probiotics actually had anything to do with it or not.
I read the label for per caplet facts and was impressed with 10mg of Bifidobacterium per serving and 15mg of Probiotic Blend (B.lactis, B. longum, and B.bifidum) . I don't necessarily know what they are but when compared to the powdered probiotics I had been taking 1 caplet of the Member's Mark container more than the 1/4 teaspoon of powder I was mixing in water did.  I know I still have a full box plus the remaining weeks in the first box, and I plan on using them until they are gone.

I know Member's Mark 4x Probotics are available at Sam's Club and I am hoping they will be available at Walmart someday.  If you are in a state where Sam's Club is located remember to like their Facebook page to keep up on whats hot

This post has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. The experience is mine and all opinions are mine.  In the future I may post additional blogs where this item is mentioned. Any further mention of this product will be unsolicited. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

#DigestiveHealth What to do....

Earlier this year I was introduced to Probiotics as a way to balance a yeast issue I was having during an ear infection. We (my Naturopath and myself) were trying to balance my system, kick an ear infection , and generally improve my immune system issues and part of that included a powdered Probiotic.. I took the powered form for about a month and slowly forgot to take it. I try to eat healthy but don't always do the best job of it and I know that Probiotics are a great tool to help improve my digestive health along with balancing my overall system.

When the opportunity to try a pill form presented itself I decided this was the perfect time to kick start the healthy track again. 
I will be taking a single pill once a day for 6 weeks and sharing the journey with you my readers. I will be using Member's Mark 4x Probiotic Digestive Care Supplement. The box contains a 6 week supply (42 caplets). Each sheet is divided and packaged with the days of the week printed on the packets to help you remember to take them... I can use all the help I can get remembering... 

This journey is part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and is compensated as such, however all opinions are my own and I will share my experiences as honestly as I can.

Women of Faith 2011 : Over the Top

I get to GO!!!
 Yes, I am very excited!
 I was selected to blog about the Women of Faith Conference in Portland   October 7 and 8 and  I am "Over the Top " ecstatic..
Yes that is a play on words since that is the theme of the conference. I got my ticket in the mail today which made it that much mire real. I get to hear some awesome speakers and hear amazing music. I guess I am more of a country girl and big city events are a huge deal for me.
I can't wait to share the whole experience with all my awesome readers.

The speakers this year include :  Patsy Clairmont, Marilyn Meberg, Lisa Whelchel, Sandy Patty, and Brenda Warner. (Yes I highlighted 2 names as those are 2 women I can't wait to hear from...)  The Musical guests for the event are amazing too: Mandisa and Selah (Can not wait to hear Selah live!!)

The event looks something like this:

Event Schedule
9:00 amDoors open
10:00 amSession 1
11:30 amLunch
12:30 pmSession 2
1:45 pmBreak
2:15 pmSession 3
3:30 pmEnd
Friday Night
5:30 pmDoors Open
7:00 pmSession 4
10:00 pmEnd
8:00 amDoors Open
9:00 amSession 1
10:45 amBreak
11:30 pmSession 2
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pmSession 3
3:15 pmBreak
3:30 pmSession 4
5:00 pmEnd
Times are approximate and subject to change.

You can still get tickets   $99 for the event .
If you put together a group of 10 or more than the price drops to  $89.
You won't want to miss this event!

I received my ticket in exchange for my sharing the event on my blog and other social media outlets. No other monetary compensation was received. I will be sharing my experiences in a ver honest fashion during this awesome spiritual event.

The organized coupons

I've said it before I'm not an extreme couponer. I am what I like to call a necessity couponer,  I coupon because I can't afford not to.
small accordian file (not so good)
larger accordian file
That said, I have been in search a system to organize my coupons.  I tried the binder concept and found I fumbled with it too much and it seemed bulky and akward. I did a small accordian file that turned out to be well, small. Next I tr ied a longer accordian fils with more pockets, and that didn't seem to work either. So, this morning I decided to try one more idea....a coupon box.

Creative Memories Mini Power Sort Box
turned coupon sorter box = Success!
I dug out an extra Creative Memories Power Sort Box and 18 divider tabs and went to work.My power sort box is the older style so I don't have the lid for the compartments (I think those would have just gotten in my way).
I stumbled across a a wonderful blog, The Q-tipping Mom, where she shared a set of labels for coupon binders printed on Avery return address labels (Avery # 42895). Since I had a package of labels I printed off a set.  Nathan and I stuck labels to dividers and began resorting and purging expired coupons.

In afternoon we put the box to the test! Walmart.... The box sits perfectly in the child seat of a cart and I left space in the box for my wallet and phone. I think I've found my couponing system. The only thing I need to add is a small notebook for my list (either that or use the list features on my phone)  I even added a tab for restaraunts and used a coupon for pizza.

I have a pile of coupons to cut and sort into the box for the next trip. I think this is going to work really well for me...
For those of you that use the binder system with success I'm glad that works for you... I tried and it didn't work... This system is going to work for me, I think I am even going to make a crocheted carrying bag for it just for something to do...