encouragement · Family · friendship · From the Editors · Night shift

The Night Shift Family – Let’s Talk About That

So, I know this is sort of a different subject to focus on but, nonetheless, it’s something I feel the need to share about, to help others better understand the lives of a night shift family. I’m going to attempt to compare below the “normal” day-to-day happenings for day shifters and then night shifters in a sort of timeline fashion. Granted, there are always things that pop up and our schedules always get changed, but from my own life, and those of friends and family, this is a generic idea of what each shift would generally encounter through out a normal day.


Timeline for typical day shifters:

  • 6:30ish– get up and get ready for work and school
  • 7ish-breakfast and off to work
  • 8ish– kids on the bus or take to school
  • 8:30ish to 12ish-errands, grocery, play time, crafts or creative time, play dates, library, maybe the zoo (which includes picnic), really whatever needs to be done, probably coffee time, dr.appts., or maybe homeschool time if that applies.
  • 12ish-lunch
  • 1-2ish rest and/or nap time. Which is also rest time or catch-up time for mom
  • 3ish-getting kids from school
  • 4ish-getting homework going and getting things together for dinner
  • 5-6ish– spouse home from work, dinner time and cleanup
  • 7ish-family time or outside time, maybe a sports practice or household duty like cutting the grass, maybe an ice cream trip
  • 8ish-winding down for the night and getting baths
  • 9ish-bedtime for kiddos
  • 9:30ish to 11:30ish-hubby and wife time (insert your own details here) lol
  • 11:30ish and later-sleeping (hopefully)

 This is how a typical day runs for us:

  • 7ish-getting up and ready for school and the day (all while being quiet as a mouse, dad is sleeping)
  • 7:30ish-breakfast (again no dinging spoons on bowls or slamming cabinets-have to be quiet)
  • 8ish-getting all the kiddos to school (unless some are too little)
  • 9ish-quiet time, coloring, a cartoon or very quiet play and also getting small ones dressed for the day, oh and don’t forget coffee time! Or maybe homeschool time if that applies
  • 10-11ish– real quick errands or a fast grocery trip, also could be homeschool time
  • 12ish– lunch and wake spouse up
  • 1ish-household stuff like cutting grass, garden, laundry and loud cleaning like vacuuming and dishes, things that are too loud in the mornings.
  • 2ish-try to spend some family time, try to catch-up on schedule details and family plans since we haven’t got to speak to each other since the day before around this same time. (usually nap time for smallest)
  • 3ish-start dinner and get kids from school at 3:30
  • 4ish-sit down for dinner and start cleanup; spouse starts packing lunch for work and getting ready (sometimes there is sports practice and I eat later and hubby leaves before I get back)
  • 5ish-spouse leaves for work; me and kids start homework
  • 6ish-sports practice and/or game, finish homework
  • 7ish– outside time, play time and snacks
  • 8ish-start baths and house cleanup
  • 9ish– getting everyone in bed. Takes 30-40 minutes for just one person, some nights longer.
  • 9:45-11:30– quiet time for me..usually paying bills, maybe a Netflix show or finishing tasks around the house
  • 11:30ish and later-hopefully sleeping

I know the schedules may not seem much different from one another, but this is really a day in the life of a night shift family, with each parent working separately on different ends of the clock. All the while, I juggle kids, dinner, messes, homework, sports, baths, bedtime, etc.  My poor husband is sleeping or working while all this hustle and bustle is going on, and he knows he’s missing out on some great stuff…but he does it for our family. I know some who would say, “Why go to such lengths of being quiet?” or, “Why cater to when he’s getting up?” My answer is, would you want your spouse only getting 3 or 4 hours of sleep a day? Which leads to awful health issues later like high blood pressure, diabetes, and eventually heart disease…and don’t forget…feeling like crud as well.  My job is to ensure the health and safety of my whole family and that includes my husband too.

I said all that to say, we night shifters want “play” time or “talk” time too, or would like to socialize with friends, but when we’re able to do that most of our friends are at home with their spouses having dinner and having family time of their own. If I called to talk at 7 or 8 on any given night you probably wouldn’t answer because you’re spending precious time with your family, just like I’m doing for a precious hour or so earlier during the day. And let’s not forget my school aged children only see their daddy for about an hour when they get home from school, and that time includes sitting down for dinner and my husband getting ready for work. The weekends are absolutely sacred to us.  We have just a couple days with a few hours to focus on our family and try to makeup for almost zero (whole) family time we get during the week. By God’s grace, and by keeping our family centered in Christ, we have been able to handle this way of life for 16 years now.

I’m not saying us night shifters have it harder really, but there is some extra responsibility that falls on us and that’s ok, that’s how families work…we work together. I can only imagine how a single parent feels and the lengths they go to, to try and cover the roles of both parents. So, if you’re a day shifter have a little grace for those who have to do life a little differently. Try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine how it would be. Don’t assume they’re too busy for you or have new friends…just realize they’re doing life the best they can.

inspiration · Poetry

“an ode to letting go”

Hi friends.  This week I’m sharing another original poem from my heart to your screen.  I hope you like it.  I hope you share it.

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“an ode to letting go”

 

Sometimes

Just no matter what

Life waltzes past

After ushering in deep sadness

The stuff that regrets and pain are made of

And it just dances right on past

To a different tune

 

And I stand here

Motionless

I can’t even breathe

 

Because sometimes

Just no matter what

Life skips on by

After stirring things up

The stuff that romance and loss are made of

And it just traipses on

Laughing at a joke I don’t quite get

 

And I lie here

Breathless

And I can’t even think

 

Because sometimes

Just no matter what

I can’t catch up

Always a step or a breath behind

I am chasing things I’ve lost

The stuff my heart can’t seem to release

And I keep grasping at air

Trying to revive what is already dead

 

And I stop here

Arrested

And I

                   can’t

                                     even

 

DIY · Essential Oils · Gardening · Skin Care · Summer · travel · Wellness

Summertime Essential Oil Must-Haves…

Alright guys, if you love essential oils and can’t live without them, or if you’re just curious and wondering what this oil craze is all about…I have put together a list of the top 10 must-have essential oils for summer.

I must start up by saying that I’m not going to push a particular brand on you or bash any other brands that I don’t use…for some reason there tends to be this rivalry among oil users to convince others that your brand is the best.   With that said, I have to reiterate that pure quality oils are a must, or they simply won’t be effective, and can even cause harm.  You cannot buy quality oils at the grocery store (not even organic chains), pharmacies or over the counter.  You pretty much have to order from an essential oil company or through someone who sells for the oil companies. If a company’s main focus is not on essential oils I can guarantee that their oils are not 100% pure, organic or therapeutic grade oils. Now,  I know you’re thinking it and yes I do have a company that I use and trust for my family and business.  I could go into a whole other post about why I choose this company, but for now we’ll just say they are 100% pure, organic and grown in the most natural state that the plants thrive in.

Ok, so now onto to the summer must-have list! I will list them from 10 to 1, 1 being my favorite and/or most useful for summer.

10. Vacation Car Oils –  Can I get an amen?!  If you have kids, this is vital in order for your family to arrive at your vacation destination with your sanity and the majority of your hair.   For my family it has double purposes.  I have 3 members of my family that get car sick…seriously bag carrying, pulling over in the nick of time…car sick.  So, it is a must for me to carry peppermint oil and the digestion blend, Digestzen.  Simply applying to the stomach and even just smelling these can ward off this awful feeling for my family.  Secondly, I carry relaxing oils like Lavender, a grounding blend called Balance and a calming blend called Serenity.   You can imagine the value these calming oils can have on a van full of bad attitudes, restless legs and cooped up kiddos.  On a road trip these are priceless to me!!


9. Poison Ivy Blend– Also, a yearly tradition is for someone in our house to get poison ivy or poison oak.  I can testify it is awful and so annoying to have that constant nagging feeling to scratch.  For this you can use Lavender “neat” (undiluted – full strength), or Cypress and Peppermint with just a few added drops of Witch Hazel.  Apply as often as needed.  (Caution: limit use of Peppermint on little ones under 1 year old).

 

8. Allergy Blend– For those summer allergies like Ragweed…whatever may be the trigger… LLP is the relief you need.  Lemon, Lavender and Peppermint blended with a carrier oil (like coconut oil) is a great way to use it topically, but diffusing and/or taking it orally are very effective as well. Remember, do not take essential oils internally if the company advises against it.  My company does inform you if an oil is safe to be ingested or not.


7. Cooling Mist Spray– Oh my goodness, I can’t tell you how great this trick is when you’re standing in line at Disney or some amusement park roasting in the sun.  All you need is Peppermint oil, water and a spray bottle.  The cooling effect peppermint has on you is remarkable. Tests can actually prove that peppermint can lower your body temperature.  Hint: those fan spray bottles (like at Disney) are even better with just couple added drops of peppermint!


6. Super Sleep Blend– Alrighty, I’m just being real. Summer can be hard for us parents to get our kids to bed…and let’s face it, we need quiet time occasionally in order to be fully functioning adults.  There are usually a couple nights a week where I have to whip out this sleep blend to get my rascals to bed.  I blend 30 drops Serenity (restful blend), 15 drops Lavender and 10 drops Vetiver all in a roller bottle with FCO (Fractionated Coconut Oil).  Roll it on wrists, pillows, and (if necessary) on the bottoms of feet and behind ears.  It works like a charm…even for my night owl.


5. Bug Bite Blend– If your family is like mine, and you’re outside a lot, then without fail, someone probably forgets to apply bug repellent and you end up with itchy, scratchy kids.  This blend is a great relief for them when they just can’t stop scratching.  There’s actually 2 variations of this blend, and both are great. First is 25 drops Lavender, 15 drops Melaleuca mixed with some FCO in a roller ball, applying to bites as needed. Second is the allergy blend listed above as #8, which also works well for bug bites.

4. Stress and Anxiety Blend (Chill Out)– This blend is a must for me when the whole day (for whatever reason) has been difficult or just plain impossible.  This is a 50/50 blend of Serenity and Balance(grounding blend).  Add 30 drops of each, topped off with FCO, to a roller bottle and you’re set. Roll that sucker on your wrists, behind ears, back of the neck, over your heart…maybe not all at once…but really find the area that works best for you, and reapply until your sanity has returned.


3. After Sun Spray– OMG, it’s hard for me to contain my excitement for this blend!!! It has helped me and my kiddos when we have gotten too much sun, and (well, let’s face it) when I (mom) have forgotten to reapply the sunblock.  No more sleepless nights or chills from being severely burned. I apply this blend at the first sight of pinkness on any of us.  I generally apply 2 times before bed and by morning we’re usually tanned already. If not, keep applying. It not only tans, but it also removes the heat from the burn and helps to prevent peeling as well.  The blend is simply 20-25 drops Lavender and 8 drops Peppermint filling the rest of a 2oz spray bottle with FCO.

2. Lavender– Yep, that’s all.  Lavender is a must around the pool and to have readily available if your kids run barefoot outside.  I’m not kidding when I say Lavender will take out a bee sting or wasp sting…any sting…in a matter of seconds!!  Someone in my crew, without fail, always manages to get stung by the pool, and Lavender is my life saver.  I rub it onto the sting area and count to 3 and they’re already jumping back in the pool…after screaming just seconds before from an awful sting.  Seriously, this makes my mom job so much easier!


1. Bug/Pest Repellent– Yes, this is a must-have for our family.  Three of us I think attract bugs from the neighboring counties!  So, I spray us all down…including my dog! It’s non-toxic, and I don’t have to fret over wether or not they get a bath every time I apply this repellent like I did when I used products containing Deet and other harmful chemicals.  The blend consists of  25 drops Terrashield, 8 drops Peppermint, 8 drops Lavender, 8 drops Lemongrass and 6 drops Cedar Wood with the remaining amount of the 2oz spray bottle being filled with spring (or distilled) bottled water.  Be sure to shake well before each use, and you can reapply as needed. Click here for more info on this blend. 


So…there you have it!!  The top 10 oils to make your summer easier and more enjoyable.  If you’re needing a place to buy quality essential oils, click here to access my website.  Feel free to contact me for more information, or with any questions you may have about essential oils.  

Food · Keto · Weight Loss

Keto…when you wanna cheat-o!

Hey there everyone!  Has anyone else been craving carby-goodies lately?  Sometimes a girl just wants a greasy slice of pizza…or a gooey cinnamon roll!!  Well this week, we (Nitty & Gritty) decided to do a collaborative post that might help you out with your yen for some junk food.  We got together and made a fantastic Keto friendly meal…even dessert…and it was so good that we wanted to share it with y’all.  (In case you don’t know what Keto is, click here to read more on it, but basically it is a very low carb, high fat way of eating that will help you lose weight and correct some health issues that you may be having.)

Both us have been seriously craving pizza lately, so we took to Pinterest and found a pizza crust recipe that is not only Keto approved, but it also looked fairly easy to prepare, and came with some great reviews.  We made an Amish Broccoli Salad for a side, and then we finished the whole thing off with some low-carb (yes, also Keto approved) cinnamon rolls.  So, below we have shared each recipe, step-by-step, with pictures and everything.  We made it all from scratch, and we ate it up…because it was so delicious.  🙂

1.  Amish Broccoli Salad

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This salad is a people pleaser.  It is seriously delicious…and you won’t be able to stay out of it!  Pictured above are the ingredients that we used to make ours.  We have listed them below, followed by the how-to instructions.  Enjoy!

Salad:

  • 2 bags fresh broccoli/cauliflower medley (cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 package uncured bacon (fried crisp and crumbled)
  • 1/2 large red onion (diced)
  • 1 brick of sharp cheddar cheese (cubed into bite-sized pieces)

Dressing:

  • 2 TBSP white distilled vinegar
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp. Pyure sweetener (possibly a little more)

 

Toss the salad ingredients until everything is evenly distributed.  In a small, separate bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and vinegar until smooth.  Next add in the sweetener, tasting to see if it is to your liking.  If it isn’t sweet enough, add a bit more sweetener.  After you get the dressing mixed up, simply put it in with the salad and toss it all until everything is coated well.  Please note, we made a little extra dressing for our salad, because we thought it needed more.  So just do your own thing and make it how you want it.  You can also add shelled sunflower seeds and nuts if you want.

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2.  Fat Head Pizza

(We don’t know WHY it’s called Fat Head!!)

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Above is a picture of everything we used to make our pizza.  We have listed the crust ingredients below, but the toppings are purely up to your preference.  We used green bell pepper, red onion, bacon (uncured – cooked and crumbled), and hard salami (cut into chunks).

Fat Head Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella (we used whole milk mozzarella, as pictured above)
  • 3/4 cup almond flour (we used Bob’s Red Mill brand)
  • 2 TBSP cream cheese, softened (Philadelphia, of course – and it does make a difference)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-2 tsp. garlic powder*
  • 1 tsp. onion powder*
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning*

*The seasonings are not set in stone.  You may use as much or as little as you want, or leave them out completely.  It’s your pizza, so make it how you would like it to taste.

To make the crust, start with the cheeses.  Measure both the mozzarella and the cream cheeses into a medium sized microwave safe bowl.

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Microwave for 1 minute, stir, and then microwave for another 30 seconds.  If your cheese is stringy, you need to microwave for another 30 seconds until it is a dough-like consistency.

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Stir in egg , almond flour, and seasonings.

 

Wet your hands and spread the dough thin and evenly onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Use a fork to poke air holes into the dough, then place into a preheated 425 degree oven.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven, and add your desired toppings.

 

Then continue baking for another 6-8 minutes, or until your pizza is a golden brown and all toppings are cooked and cheese is melted evenly.

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Building Your Pizza:

  1. When you remove your crust from the oven after the initial 8 minutes, you will want to start with your sauce.  Try to find the sauce that has the least amount of carbs.  We used Simply Nature Organic Marinara, with a net of 5 carbs per 1/2 cup.  Spread your sauce evenly over crust.
  2. Next, you’ll want some more mozzarella to sprinkle over your sauce.  We suggest getting a separate bag of cheese for topping your pizza.
  3. Finally, top with the meats and/or veggies of your choosing and sprinkle with more cheese!

3. Fat Head Cinnamon Rolls

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Fat Head Cinnamon Roll Crust:

  • 3 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella (we used the same cheese that we did in the pizza crust – whole milk mozzarella)
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill again)
  • 4 TBSP cream cheese, softened (Philadelphia is the best)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup of Pyure brand sweetener (this is a Stevia/erythritol blend, and it is far superior to any other sweetener that we have tried…highly recommended)

To make dough, in a large bowl melt the mozzarella cheese for 1 minute in the microwave and stir.  If it is still stringy, microwave for another 30 seconds and stir.  Continue to do so in 30 second increments until is it melted and at a doughy consistency.

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Next, add cream cheese, almond flour, eggs, and sweetener.

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Mix until everything is incorporated.  You have to really work it in, but keep at it.  It may get stringy while you are mixing, if so, pop it in the microwave for another 20-30 seconds to get it back to that melted, dough consistency.

Spread the dough into a rectangle, onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  It should be a little thicker than your pizza dough, but not so thick that you can’t roll it.

Filling:

  • 2 TBSP ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (one stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup Pyure sweetener

Spread the softened butter evenly over the dough.  Next, sprinkle the cinnamon and sweetener (that has already been combined) over the butter.

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Next, roll the dough length-wise into a log.  Try not to tear the dough, and then seal the edge.  Slice the log into approximately 12 spirals.  Place them in a lightly greased, round, 9-inch cake pan.  They will be touching on all sides.  Any excess filling that squeezes out during the rolling, can be spread over the top of the spirals after you get them in the pan.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees, until the rolls are a golden brown.  We had to bake them much longer than this time.  It was more like 30 minutes.  Just make sure you keep an eye on them after 15 minutes or so.

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Glaze/Icing:

  • 4 TBSP cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pyure sweetener (to taste and desired consistency)

Mix together with a spoon or fork, adding sweetener as you go, tasting after each addition.  When you have it like you want it, spread over warm rolls (still in the pan).

 

We are so sorry there aren’t any pictures of them on plates, but we scarfed them down before that ever even crossed our minds!  We just want to add, also, that the kids in the house gobbled them up!  They were asking for more, and had no idea that this was a sugar-free, low-carb treat!

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Well that concludes the breakdown of our night of Keto indulgence.  We hope that if you are like us, craving things you miss eating from time to time, you will find it easy to make some of these goodies for yourself and get cheating off of your brain!  This stuff is seriously delicious!  We give it all 4 thumbs up!

As always, please like and share our blog!  Keto on!

Canning · DIY · Food · Frugal · Gardening · Preserving · Summer

When in doubt…pickle.

The bees are busy and buzzing in our backyard this time of year! We have a full garden with lots of blooms for them to visit. Not to mention we have a yard of clover that we purposely do not spray with chemicals just for their well being. I try to take care of them and they take good care of our garden plants and fruit trees. In particular this time of year we rely on them to pollinate our cucumber plants. There’s nothing quite like the smell and taste of a cucumber straight out of the garden. Those waxy specimens you get at the grocery wane in comparison. When the cucumber bounty is coming in, we are using them every way we can think of; in salads, as crackers and of course we make pickles! In our house we love little jerkin pickles. The beginning of the growing season is the best time to get the most “little”cucumbers all at once. You can do whatever size you like, spears, slices or whole pickles. The process for all of them is the same. If you’re a beginner canner I highly recommend trying pickles first. They’re so easy to make and they help you understand the process you need to do in order to can.

Canning can be done using a water bath canner or a pressure cooker. When canning pickles, jams, jellies, fruit butters, tomatoes, salsa, pretty much any fruit or vegetable that is acidic a water bath canner is safe to use, but for meat and starchy vegetables like green beans and corn you need to use a pressure cooker to ensure the temperature gets hot enough to eliminate any harmful bacteria that can spoil your food. However, tomatoes of any kind can be canned in both a water bath or a pressure cooker, a pressure cooker just shortens your processing time from about 45 minutes to about 15 to 20 minutes. For pickles you will always use a water bath canner, a pressure cooker would cook the cucumbers and they’d be very soft and soggy. Because of the vinegar used in pickling, making them acidic, a water bath canner is the preferred method to canning pickles. The same is also true for jellies, jams, and fruit butters in that a water bath canner is the easiest and generally preferred method of canning. In the pictures below is my water bath canner on the left and a pressure cooker on the right. I do have one, but they’re super heavy and I didn’t feel like digging it out for a photo shoot.

Ok, so first things first, you pick your cucumbers and give them a good cleaning in the sink. You’ll also want to make sure you have plenty of clean jars. Go ahead and halfway fill your canner with water and put your jars in to have them sanitizing in hot water. A canner holds 7 jars so I usually try to have at least 8 jars ready. Now, back to the cucumbers, start slicing or preparing them based on what kind of pickles you want (slices, spears, whole, etc…). Remove your sanitized jars from the canner using a jar lifter and carefully place them on a kitchen towel. Hint: hot glass is temperamental and can crack and break easily. You can then begin stuffing the jars as tight as possible with your cleaned and cut cucumbers. Try to get the jars as full as possible so you don’t have to use as much pickle brine and also so there is less air in the jars which can lead to shorter shelf life.

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Now, once jars are full of cucumbers, you start getting your pickle juice cooking on the stove. I use a pickle mix, Mrs.Wages kosher dill mix. You do not have to do this, I just love the quality, convenience and consistency of the mix. There is directions on the back for the measurements of water, vinegar and pickle mix. It’s pretty straight forward you combine all the ingredients and bring it to a boil. Once your brine is boiling, remove from the stove and place near your stuffed jars. One by one using a ladle and canning funnel fill your jars within a half inch from the top rim. Once all jars are filled, wipe the rims to remove any spilled liquid and then cap the jars with your heated ring and lids. Put them on together and just hand tighten, don’t over tighten or your jar can bust in the canning process.

Alrighty, jars are filled with cucumbers and hot brine and they’ve also have lids. The next thing to do is get your jars into the water bath canner. Using your jar lifters, one by one carefully place the jars into the rack inside the canner. When all 7 jars are in canner, put the lid on canner and double check the heat is on high. You want to get the canner up to boiling as quick as possible so that you have good and crunchy pickles. Once you see steam coming from the lid you can begin counting your processing time, which for pickles in pint size jars is 10 minutes. Once your 10 minutes is up remove your jars using jar lifters again and place the jars one by one onto a kitchen towel. You do this because placing them on a cool countertop can bust a jar. Always, always use towels on the counters when canning. The pic below is a typical jar lifter used in canning.

Before long, probably within a few minutes you should hear the magnificent sound of your jars “popping” and therefore sealing. Woo-how you did it! Easy-Peasy!! Just repeat this process until you run out of cucumbers and brine. Your pickle loving self/family should have tasty pickles for the year to come. This whole process only takes about 2 hours. It’s a great way to get your feet wet in canning. If I can do it, you can do it. Good luck on your canning adventures. Here’s batch 1 of 2 for me from last Saturday!

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encouragement · inspiration · Poetry

“Beautiful & Alive”

I wanted to share a poem with y’all this week.  I wrote it, and rather than explain it’s meaning, or what I felt when I was writing it, I’d like for you to just read it and think about how it applies to your life – as a woman – as a person who has loved, lost, and risen again.  We all have our inner lives, our hurts and triumphs, and our stories that we sometimes never tell.  It is all part of who we are and how our lives unfold.  So, I hope you find some encouragement from what I have written, and that you will share it with anyone you’d like.  We are all so much stronger than we know!  Love to all!

 

Tomorrow I’ll wake up and think to myself,

“I just couldn’t sleep again,”

And I’ll know why.

 

But these secrets I keep are kept.

Some things are better that way.

 

Because when I dig,

I find things I forgot I’d hidden;

Time capsules never meant to be reopened,

Sealed tight with my tears and hatred,

Buried deep under my triumphs and successes;

That thorny bush,

Roses blooming and fragrant,

Open,

Faces to the sun.

 

I’m winter hardy.

I survive.

Thorns protecting what I’ve made:

My resentment,

My sins,

My indignation,

And the grace that gives me beauty and fight.

 

I accelerate.

Cut me back,

I return.

Pluck my petals,

I regenerate.

 

So thank you!

Thanks, man!

You made me strong,

And my roots grow deep,

Curling around the pain you imposed,

Toward the sun, toward the sky, I rise,

Beautiful and alive.

– “Beautiful & Alive”

Canning · DIY · Food · Gardening · Preserving · Summer

We Be Jammin’

Oh the sounds of summer: kids playing, pools splashing, late night music, frogs croaking, crickets chirping and jars sealing. You gotta admit those are some good times…yep, I really said jars sealing. Growing up I spent many summer days and nights helping and watching my Mamaw can green beans, tomatoes, pickles, and jams. I grew accustomed to hearing those jars pop all night long as they were cooling off and sealing.  That was the sound of sweet success!! Now that I’m grown with a family of my own, and my grandmother has long since left this world, I can’t wait for my first canning every year. To hear those familiar pops takes me back to my Mamaw’s kitchen. How I’d love for her to see me canning like she did.

Nowadays in our home, my babies get excited each time a jar pops. They know all our effort is paying off. I think they also know that the strawberry or blackberry jam is gonna be awesome for breakfasts and on their PB&J’s too! These moments are the ones I cherish, and I can only hope they will too.

If you’ve never canned before, in my opinion, jam or pickles are the easiest for getting started. I’m just gonna give a brief run down of the basics to canning strawberry jam from start to finish. For any of you out there who are kinda skittish about canning, or maybe think it’s too much trouble, I hope this brings clarity to any questions you may have.

First things first, wash and cut your strawberries. Try to have good, firm, ripe berries. You really don’t want bruised or over ripe fruit. (Canning rule of thumb is: high quality in = high quality, long-lasting canned goods.)  Once you’ve washed and cut berries into halves or fourths, then you smash or crush them. I use my meat masher thingy from Pampered Chef to get them good and crushed.

From there you follow the recipe on the pectin box or container. I use Ball brand fruit pectin. It gives you exact measurements for your strawberries, pectin, and sugar. I’m pushing my recipe to the max (be careful when tripling or quadrupling jams/jellies) with 8 cups crushed berries, 8 TBSP pectin, and 9 cups sugar. Add strawberries and pectin first to the pot with 1Tbsp butter. Bring this mix to a full rolling boil. Once it can’t be stirred down, add all of your sugar to the pot. Bring this mix back to a full rolling boil. Let it boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly.


While all that’s going on, have your jars heating (sanitizing) in the water bath canner. You also need to have your rings and lids heating up in a smaller pan. This way once your jam is finished boiling, your jars and lids will be ready to go as well. Ok, rolling boil has done it’s minute, now your ready to jar and lid your jam. Simply ladle your mix into your jars, be sure to use a canning funnel. Fill each jar within a 1/2 inch from the top. Fill up all your jars, wipe the top edges of each jar to remove any loose jam, then top them with the hot lids and rings. Once all the jars are topped, use a canning lifter to place jars gently in the water bath canner. Put the top on the canner and wait for the boil to come back. When it begins to boil again (you’ll see steam coming out of the lid) that’s when you start your timer. For jam, processing (boiling) time is 10 minutes. After 10 minutes of processing, remove jars with jar lifters and place on a kitchen towel. Let them sit here to cool and seal. You’ll hear them within a few minutes start popping, which is the evidence of sealing. It’s a wonderful sound…I love it!

Let the sealed jars continue to cool overnight without moving if possible. You can eat immediately, but I generally recommends letting them cure for a week to ensure full setting and flavor. After all of your effort, you now have some amazing jam to last you throughout the year. Just a little added hint: homemade jams and jellies make great gifts.

Good luck…and happy canning!

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