What’s Going On…

August was a pretty busy month for us. As we prepare for our move this coming Spring, I feel that the coming months will be just as busy.

We continue to declutter and organize, being mindful of exactly what we’re taking with us. What really matters to us the most. What brings us joy. What will we actually benefit from and use.

I’m thrilled that we’ve cleared out our rented storage unit. Most of the items that we were storing were building materials and tools that we will need once we move to the homestead, so we went ahead and moved those items to our storage shed on the property. Even though our stuff just went from one storage area to another, it still felt good to move it “home”. Not to mention, it feels good to be able to out that monthly payment amount into our savings account each month now.

There were also off season clothes, various kitchen items, and “projects” that we’d been holding on to. Once we’d been without it for a period of time, it was easy to decide what we were going to actually wear/use/complete and donate the rest. Those items have served us well and now they can be a blessing to someone else.

Since Labor Day was a long weekend, we spent it doing maintenance around the homestead. Clearing silt from the drainage ditch that runs along the road, cleared brush and moved some downed trees. Moving downed trees will be the theme of our life over the next year I’m certain. Thankfully, the weather was perfect. Low humidity and cooler temperatures.

I just loved the way the sun was shining through these trees.

A clearing is emerging!
The woods are calling, and I must go!
That SUN! Love!

And I had a visit from my little hummingbird buddy! He seems to thoroughly enjoy the butterfly bush I’ve planted.

While I didn’t get food preserved each and every day of August, I was able to add quite a few items to our storage. As mentioned in my previous post, I canned fruit cocktail, cherries in light syrup, potatoes, chicken breast, chili beans, carrots, pineapple, and homemade chicken broth and veggie broth. Oh! And I found the most AMAZING baked bean recipe for canning. I will definitely be making another batch to add to the pantry! Much to my delight, I was able to find a few deals on ground pork, turkey and beef, so I added that to our freezer. I also tried my hand at dehydrating for the first time. I started simple – just did some carrots. 3 pounds dehydrated to about 12 ounces in a jar. Dehydrating is going to be an amazing space saver. I can’t wait to try more things!

~Blessings!~

August Food Preservation Goals

In a recent video from one of my favorite Youtube channels, Three Rivers Homestead, Jessica is reorganizing her pantry and working on cycling out her inventory. There’s just something so beautiful about a well stocked pantry of home preserved food. A pantry, shelf or cabinet becomes a beautiful show piece and part of the home decor. I could binge watch any of these type videos for hours!

Jessica is also participating in the #everybitcountschallenge on her Instagram page. The goal is to preserve/can something each and every day of August. Wow! With her busy family and farm, that certainly is going to be a challenge. But I’m sure she’ll rise to it. 🙂

It got me to thinking about my own pantry and setting some goals for myself. I know my limitations with time and budget, so to try and get something preserved each day is just setting myself up for failure. I currently don’t have my own garden, so I’m relying on the grocery store, local farmers market and excess from friends gardens for my fresh veggies. But, because “every bit counts”, I can make some realistic goals for myself and add quite a bit of food storage over the next month.

Here’s what I’m planning.

Fruit Cocktail

My inspiration for this comes from the fact that cherries are in season! They look so delicious, but I couldn’t think of anything to do with them outside of a cherry pie, which neither of us would eat. I opened a jar of my home canned pineapple a few days ago and then it occurred to me that I could make fruit cocktail! A quick trip down the Youtube rabbit hole, and I found this recipe. Cherries, pineapple, grapes and pears canned in the natural juices, just like I do my pineapple. I’ll omit the peaches since we don’t care for those. For around $10, I’ll have 9 pints of delicious fruit cocktail made from fruits chosen at the ripeness we like them preserved with no extra sugar or preservatives!

Kidney Beans

While this is not one of the beans we eat as a side dish or entree, I do use them in my chili recipe. I’ll go ahead and can these in quart jars, since I usually use two cans. Sams Club has 4 pounds dry kidney beans for around $6, so I should be able to get 5-6 quarts on the shelf.

Carrots

Perfect as a side dish or adding to recipes. I can buy organic carrots in bulk and get around 9 pints for roughly $6.00.

Potatoes

This is a vegetable that I’ve been on the fence about for a number of years. I’ve heard how terrible the texture of home canned potatoes is, how mushy they get, etc. and so that never appealed to me at all. But, the idea of being able to just grab a jar, heat them up and have mashed potatoes in less than 5 minutes does. I think the key is to choose waxy types -like yukon gold, or yellow or red potatoes – instead of baking types, like russets. Mashed potatoes is the way we eat potatoes most of the time anyway and waxy potatoes are typically what I buy simply because that’s our favorite type of potato. So I’m just gonna go for it and see what happens! The guesstimation is around 13 pounds for 9 pints. That should cost me around $7.00.

Chicken and Ground Beef

(No, not together of course!) While I would love to get a couple canner loads of each done in August, it’s really going to depend on the sale cycles. There was a really good deal on organic chicken a few weeks ago, so I’m hoping that will be coming back around soon. It is usually easier to find a good deal on quality ground beef rather than chicken in my area. Even on sale, it’s going to take me about $50 to get enough of each to fill 16 pints. But since each pint holds a pound, that will be a really good value in the long run. It will decrease our dependency on using the freezer and it will retain it’s quality longer than it would in the freezer.

Dehydrating

I have several things that I can dehydrate! They’re inexpensive and won’t take much hands on time. As follows: garlic, onions, green beans, corn, mushrooms, peppers, peas and kale. Shelf stable and ready to add to so many recipes!

In Closing

Well, there’s my basic list. I feel this is completely attainable and I will be so proud of it once I’ve completed it. I’m sure I’ll be motivated and inspired to add more to the list as I get going!

I hope you’re inspired to start a pantry or add to yours over the next few months as well. There are so many delicious fruits and veggies to choose from this time of year and I can’t wait to enjoy them into the months to come. The time and effort spent adding to our food storage pantry will all be worth it down the road with the time saved and the convenience of having a well stocked inventory.

Please be sure to check out the youtube links above and if interested, follow Three Rivers Homestead on Instagram and join the #everybitcountschallenge.

~ Blessings ~

An Introduction to Gray Water

WHAT IS GRAY WATER?

Gray water is household waste water from your bathroom sinks, tub and shower and dishwasher. It is also produced while camping by washing dishes, brushing your teeth, washing clothes and washing your body. In either scenario, careful consideration should be made with regards to the products used and disposing of the gray water responsibly.

GRAY WATER AROUND THE HOME

If you are fortunate enough to live in an area that allows gray water, considering installing one in your home would have many benefits. (Gray water laws differ from state to state, and in some areas it is entirely illegal. Be sure to check your local ordinances and laws.)

There are many uses for recycled gray water, from washing your clothes to irrigating your garden. And because you’re decreasing your usage of fresh water, you would save money on your water bill. Not to mention reducing the demand and wasting of the public water supply.

While installing a gray water system does involve a bit of know how and the ability to perform manual labor, it is not necessarily too complex, nor too expensive. The decision to do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you will depend largely on your actual water usage and the laws of your area. If you have the ability to live off grid and use a composting toilet, then the laws of your area more than likely allow for a gray water system as long as it meets certain criteria.

Gray water cannot simply be piped to your garden. It does have to go through a collection and filtration process. It cannot be stored either, as the bacteria in it will use up all the oxygen making it anaerobic and turning it septic.

IRRIGATING WITH GRAY WATER

These are just a few guidelines to follow when using gray water for irrigation of grasses, ornamentals, trees, fruits and vegetables.

  • Gray water should only be applied to the soil, never to any above ground portion of a plant.
  • Root crops that will be eaten raw should not be irrigated using gray water.
  • Gray water is alkaline. Do not use it on any plants that thrive in acidic soil.
  • Use only on well established plants, not seedlings or young plants.
  • Only apply it to flat areas where runoff is not an issue.

CREATING GRAY WATER DURING CAMPING

Some people may not think of “camping” as a way to create gray water. But think about it – when camping, you’re washing your hands, brushing your teeth, cleaning dishes and possibly washing your clothes. Camping or living off grid produce much of the same waste. In each case, we are responsible for dealing with said waste in a way that is not harmful to humans, wildlife or the soil itself. Soil is a living being, full of microbial organisms, worms and bugs that all exist in natures balance. Anything we do to the soil, or pour onto the soil, can affect that balance. We must be mindful and careful!

We love camping. Because our style of camping is “primitive” or “roughing it”, we are very mindful of the amount of trash we generate, conservation of our water supply and the cleanliness of our area. This includes the creation and disposal of our gray water.

When cooking, we don’t cook foods that are excessively greasy or require grease for cooking (like frying). Food residue is scraped thoroughly from our dishes, pans and cooking utensils and disposed of by being tossed into the campfire or put in the trash, thereby creating “quality” gray water. We use minimal amounts of soap for dish washing as well as body washing, and the products that we use are safe for the environment. Gray water, whether at your home or campsite, should never be poured directly into any natural body of water, such as a stream, creek, or pond.

PRODUCTS SAFE FOR GRAY WATER

As with food, just because a product states “natural” or “organic” on the label, you still need to look at the list of ingredients. While some products are perfectly safe and eco-friendly for household or bodily cleansing using a septic or sewer system, they could be harmful if used in a gray water system.

For a gray water system, look for cleaning products (both household and body) that are “biodegradable” and “biocompatible” products.

Ingredients to avoid:

• sodium and ingredients with the word “sodium” or “salt” in them
• boron/borax (toxic to plants)
• sodium perborate
• petroleum distillate
• anti-bacterial soaps and cleaners
• ”whiteners” and “softeners”
• chromium oxide
• artificial colors, FD&C colors
• synthetic fragrance
• artificial preservatives
• parabens (methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl)
• chlorine bleach / sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) Hydrogen peroxide is a safe alternative

Green Goo offers all natural, plant based products, for first aid and health and beauty free from harmful ingredients. Be sure to still read the label if considering for use with gray water.

Here are a sampling of brands that are safe for gray water systems.

BATH

LAUNDRY

  • Ecos
  • Dropps
  • Oasis

KITCHEN

GENERAL CLEANING

For simplicity, Castille soap can be used to make just about every product needed for cleaning your house, washing your body and hair and even doing dishes.

I hope you find this information informative and helpful. I’m not an expert by any means, but I’ve researched and practiced gray water usage and disposal for a number of years. The act of having to carefully consider the products that I’m using and being responsible for the disposal of my own waste (trash and water) is all part of living intentionally and purposefully.

~ Blessings ~

Homestead Chili Recipe

Many folks may think of chili as a dish to be enjoyed during the colder months of the year, but we eat it year round. Yes, even during the dog days of summer. It is the perfect accompaniment to a fresh summer salad and a glass of iced tea. Summer is the perfect time for making a big batch for canning or freezing since tomatoes and peppers are at their prime freshness. Like soups, spaghetti sauce and stews, chili is versatile and can be made with pantry staples that are already on hand.

I got the original recipe from the very first cookbook I purchased for myself shortly after we were married. I made it “by the book” for a number of years. As I became more confident in my cooking skills, I went rogue with the seasonings and amounts and learned just what and how much suit our tastes.

Chili is one of those dishes that never turns out the same twice, but it’s always delicious. It’s extremely forgiving and adaptable to most palettes or dietary restrictions (for example, cooked peppers cause digestive problems for my husband, so I omit them now).

The actual recipe calls for chopped chuck and hot Italian sausage. I typically just used ground beef and regular breakfast sausage. Over the years however, I’ve lightened the recipe by using a combination of ground turkey and lean ground pork or beef. You can make it using only turkey, but based on my experience, it is much better to combine with the pork or beef. The flavor is richer, but you’re still cutting down on a lot of the fat.

Making a big batch of chili was extremely economical when we were feeding two growing boys. It’s filling, packed full of protein, and tastes even better the second day. If you’re a canner, using home canned dried beans and vegetables will make this even more economical. While it is a one pot meal, there are several things that pair perfectly with chili based on the season. Rice, cornbread, rustic crusty bread, salad, or just a vegetable and fruit tray will provide a filling, frugal way to feed a crowd. I find that it freezes well, so I’m able to batch cook it to have a quick meal ready in no time.

This is my base recipe, but I taste it as I go and adjust the seasonings accordingly. Feel free to experiment with your own spices and quantities to suit your family’s tastes. If you like more, add more; if you like less, add less. If you don’t like something at all, leave it out and add flavor using something else. Also, the amounts of the beans and meats are “about” that amount. I’ve added more or less just based on what I had available.

  • 2 T Oil (I use EVOO)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 diced bell pepper (can be omitted)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 pound ground turkey (or beef)
  • 1 pound ground sausage, your preferred choice (or ground pork)
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
  • 1 jalapeno, diced fine (jarred is ok too; can also be omitted)
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 2 cans (16 0z) beans (kidney beans, red beans, pinto beans or a combination, undrained)
  • My combination of spices: chili powder, cumin (about 1 tablespoon of each), salt, pepper, turmeric, garlic and onion powder all to taste
  1. In a 3 quart pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until onion is translucent and bell pepper is tender. Add meats and cook until browned. Add garlic and let cook for about 30-45 seconds.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, jalapeno, brown sugar, and seasonings. Stir well and allow it to heat for a moment. Taste and begin adjusting seasonings to your taste. (Be sure to let it heat for a moment after each addition before tasting to avoid over seasoning.)
  3. Once it is seasoned how you want, cook on low for 45 minutes stirring occasionally. Enjoy!

This makes approximately 10 generous servings.

I hope this becomes one of your favorite family recipes!

~Blessings!~

Moving Forward And Looking Back

This coming Spring, my husband and I will step into the next phase and chapter of our lives. We will be moving from our tiny apartment in the suburbs to our rural homestead, downsizing even further and simplifying our lives even more.

Several years ago we partnered with some dear friends to embark on this journey with. We share the same ideas, dreams and goals of living a simpler life. A sustainable, more self sufficient and purposeful life. A slower life.

We’ve used weekends and vacations to clear land and build a few structures. It’s been tough trying to cram as much productivity as possible into such short intervals. They’re truly is only so much that can be accomplished by two people in a limited amount of time. Unexpected health issues caused us to have to stop work completely for about a year to allow for recovery. We had to overcome some financial set backs as well, and adjust to our “new normal”. But in spite of this, we’ve continued to move forward, never losing sight of the end goal. We’ve had to accept that even slow progress is still progress.

Our friends are quite a bit farther along than we are. They completed construction of their house and moved to the property last year. We’re all looking forward to being together full time so some real progress can be made on the development of systems and structures. We all still have a few more years to work before we can retire, but it will certainly be easier to accomplish things once we’re settled.

Three years ago, after both our boys officially moved out, we did some major decluttering and downsizing into a 700 square foot apartment. We simply did not need a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2,000 square foot house. We decided we could go ahead and start the great purge, further preparing for moving to our retirement homestead. With less expenses, we’ve been able to put more money aside, allowing us to cash flow several homestead projects. I will tell you though – we had a LOT of stuff. More than we ever realized. It was painful and overwhelming at times. We honestly spent the better part of a year donating, dumping, giving and sorting before we moved.

It had been 30 years since we’d lived in an apartment and we weren’t too sure we would be able to adapt to it, but reminding ourselves it was only temporary. Surprisingly, we’ve actually enjoyed it. We live in a great community and have a rather private unit. It was the most sensible thing to to do at the time we did it. Still, it was bittersweet.

We’d lived in our house for 10 years. That’s a lot of birthdays, graduations, holidays and memories. And as excited as hubby and I were to begin the “next phase” of our lives, there was also a sadness for the closure of the first chapter. We were officially empty nesters.

In that driveway and garage, my boys had learned everything from how to change a bicycle tire to swapping out a car motor and rebuilding a transmission. There’d been countless motorcycles and autos parked there with visiting friends and family.

We only locked our doors if we left, and it was not uncommon for one of our “borrowed” children to stick their head in yelling “Hey mom! Dad! You home?” I was always cooking and baking, making sure anyone who passed through left with a full belly. I still haven’t mastered cooking for two. I think I’m down to cooking for about four, so it’s a good thing we don’t mind leftovers.

We hosted all night computer game parties, the living room covered up with pre-teens and teenagers all engrossed in the latest quest while fueling up with pizza, cookies and soft drinks. Anyone who needed a place to crash was always welcome. It was never difficult to get help with house projects or yard work – there was always an extra set of hands that could come help out willingly.

There were countless neighborhood cats that passed through our home as well. Some only stopping to catch a quick bite of the food I left out for them. Others, happily lounging on my bench swing waiting for me to come out and give a chin scratch. A couple considered themselves members of our family. There were pets that passed away during those 10 years, so their memories are with us all still too.

That yard was where I had my first flock of chickens. There was always some kind of gardening experiment going on in various parts of the yard. A worm bin, a compost pile. Raised beds and container gardens. Twelve foot high sunflowers and eight foot high okra plants. Our wonderful neighbor and I solving all the worlds problems in discussions over the fence. I shared the bounty of my vegetable garden with her each summer; she shared the bounty of her flower bulbs in fall when she thinned out her plants. Her beautiful daylilies are growing at my homestead right now!

Our oldest son learned to drive stick shift in that neighborhood. Our youngest followed a couple years later. There was always some sort of automobile tinkering project going on in the driveway and garage.

I guess one of the things you don’t realize is just how quiet things get once the kids move out. That beautiful background noise of laughter and chatter. It just becomes such a part of your daily life that once it’s gone, you feel incredibly lonely without it. I was quite depressed those first few months after the boys were gone.

There is joy in knowing that we did our job as parents as best we could with what we had. I like to say my boys are amazing in spite of us. And we were – are – very close. We’re usually all together each Sunday – our two sons, daughter in law and granddaughter. We can sit and talk with these now adult children the same way we could when they were kids. They always knew they could come to us with anything. We were consistent, we were stable, we were safe and they knew they were loved.

So, we enter another bittersweet phase of our lives. Our homestead is about 2 hours in one direction, our youngest and his family are moving about 2 hours in another direction and our oldest is moving out of the state about 5 hours in yet another direction! Guess we’re all finally leaving the nest. So while getting together every Sunday is probably not going to be manageable, we’ll get together as often as possible. We’ll be the grandparents with the farm for the grandkids to come visit!

Even though I love our little apartment and it makes all the financial and practical sense in the world, I am so ready to get moved onto our homestead!

I miss my clothesline and the smell of laundry dried by the sun and a gentle summer breeze. 

I miss my hands being in the dirt and being surrounded by grass and flowers. Gardening is extremely therapeutic for me. The smell of dirt. The wonder at the miracle of a plant growing from seed. Seeing what flourishes and what was a complete waste of time. The birds singing, the bugs buzzing, the sun and fresh air all work together and help me sort out my thoughts. I’ve solved many problems while on my knees pulling weeds, picking beans or digging with a shovel.

New ideas ignite.

Solutions are found.

Clarity, focus and peace attained.

I’m at peace with where our lives are and where we are headed. On to the third quarter!

~Blessings!~

Resources For Buying Seasonal Produce

Summer produces some of the best fruits and veggies! The variety is abundant and when you buy seasonal, it’s less expensive.

Now is the perfect time to stock up for canning, preserving, dehydrating and freezing so you can enjoy the bounty of summer all year long. Check out this seasonal produce guide for the perfect time to purchase your favorites!

Summer is also a great time to check out your local farmers market, co-op or local farm. Make it a family fun day at a local farm that allows you to pick your own produce. They often times have attractions or games to make the day more eventful!

Another way to obtain fresh produce locally is by joining a CSA. Local Harvest is a great resource to locate a CSA, farm or farmers market in your area. Now, you may not have any of these in your area locally or that would be within reasonable driving distance, but some farms actually do ship items. Definitely worth checking it out!

I hope you find these resources valuable and that you are enjoying the summer!

~Blessings!~

what is an advance directive and why is it important

An advance directive is a crucial document to have in place for peace of mind for you and your loved ones. Discussing and documenting your final wishes prior to experiencing an illness, accident or even aging is one of the greatest gifts you can give your family.

I’d like to share my own personal experience that prompted me to “get my affairs in order” with respect to my own planning and preparation.

A few years ago, my husband suffered a near fatal infection. He was in a coma, required brain surgery and rehabilitation. After a long hard road, thankfully, he recovered. But, he suffered brain damage and a host of long term health problems due to the toll the infection took on his body. As a result, he was disabled and no longer employable.  So, I became our sole source of income and his caregiver.

While he did not have an official advance directive in place, I knew what his wishes would have been in a medical crisis. If it came down to it, I would have had to voice that for him if asked by his care team. I was dreading it, but I was prepared to make it known because I loved him. I knew he would not have wanted to be kept alive by artificial means or spend his final days suffering just to “hang on”. We’d had the tough discussions on more than one occasion, usually after a friend or loved one passed away.

Due to the brain damage, my husband is not always able to understand what he is reading or necessarily comprehend what is being explained about a situation. When he becomes agitated, nervous or excited, his confusion and anxiety are compounded 100 fold. So, while he knows me and he knows what I would want, if it came down to it, I feel it quite honestly be more than he could bear. And he shouldn’t have to make that decision while there is such a simple was for me to relieve that burden.

In order to take care of him in the event something happened to me, I created a will, purchased life insurance on myself and completed my advance directive. I wanted everything signed, sealed, witnessed and filed. Yes, my husband, my kids, my friends, my family all know what I have expressed as my final wishes, but if the time came, why should they have to answer the tough questions?

Would they not be distraught enough?

Could they possibly second guess themselves and carry the guilt and worry that they made the wrong decision?

Why should they have to look a doctor in the eye and utter those words when it is completely within my power to help them even in what might be my final moments.

I feel there is absolutely no excuse for not having an advance directive. I understand that for some people it is frightening or morbid or unnerving. I think some may think that they will “conjure up” death if they plan for it!

I’ll be honest though –  it did take me a few weeks to complete mine before signing it. Once I had the blank paperwork in front of me and read the questions, I had to consider that what I wanted was REALLY what I wanted.

Each state has its own set of provisions and requirements regarding advance directives.  CaringInfo is a great resource to obtain the forms specific to each state. Simply choose your state from their home page for free access to the necessary forms for your state. You can complete them online and print for final signatures, or print them out and complete by hand.

Advance directive forms are pretty self explanatory and relatively easy to complete. While specifics may vary from state to state, it is basically comprised of the following

  • Assigning a health care agent

You will need to choose a person to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to do by accident, impairment, illness, etc.

  • Your treatment preferences

In this part, you outline your “final wishes”.  For my state, I had the options of do everything to extend my life, let my natural death occur, or the option of choosing the particular measures I would prefer. You may also want to provide preferences regarding surgery or amputation, etc.

  • Assigning a guardian

 If, for whatever reason, you are not able to make significant responsible decisions regarding your finances, welfare or safety, you will need a guardian to oversee your affairs. This was an optional section for my state, but having had the experience with my husband, I went ahead and chose a guardian for myself. When my husband was classified as disabled, I had to be certified by the court and social security administration certifying that I would be responsible for his well being and care.  If he hadn’t had me, then the court would have appointed a guardian for him.

And that’s it!

The forms do not have to notarized, but they do have to be witnessed by parties other than your health care agent or guardian.

It is imperative that you discuss your preferences with your loved ones and get everyone on the same page. Answer the tough questions and ask the tough questions. Get everything out on the table and clear up the gray areas. Make sure your health care agent and/or guardian is comfortable with carrying out the duties you are asking of them. By having your directive in place, you are providing a bit of peace for your loved ones and yourself should a medical crisis ever arise. Through your directive, you would be an active participant in your care decisions, even though you may be incapacitated or otherwise unable to do so. And remember – an advance directive is a LIVING document and it can be adjusted or changed at any time you choose.

For me, an advance directive is vital for planning and preparing for the future. I encourage you to execute a directive documenting your wishes and providing your loved ones with the confidence they are making the decisions you would want them to make.

~ Blessings ~

How to Can Pineapple for Pantry Food Storage

Canning pineapple for your food storage is quite easy. It can be labor intensive and a bit messy, but it is so worth it!

When I started canning a few years ago, it had not occurred to me to can fruit for food storage. Vegetables, pickles and jams and jellies are obvious, but it wasn’t until this past year that I realized I could actually can fresh fruits. I’m so glad I did! Having canned fresh pineapple on hand is so handy for baking, pineapple sandwiches or for a pizza topping.

Pineapple is canned using the water bath method, so you don’t even need a canner if you don’t have one. It can be hot or raw packed.

Pineapples are just coming into season, and I was fortunate to find them on sale this past weekend. I went ahead and picked up 3 and will purchase more throughout the season.

There are a couple of options when it comes to what type of syrup to use, so you will need to decide this before you begin the process.

Simple Syrup

(Recipe is for about 6 pineapples. Just adjust according for the number of pineapples you have.)

In a large stainless steel pot, combine 1 cup sugar to 5 cups water. Bring to a boil and stir constantly until dissolved. Add your cut pineapple and stir to evenly combine and heat approximately 30 seconds, just long enough to heat through.

“Natural Juices”

Place skins and cores of pineapples (NOT the leaves) into a large stock pot. Add enough water to cover by 2″. Boil for 15 minutes. Strain through coffee filters or cheesecloth before adding to pineapple in jars.

Just Water

Heat a pot of water just to boiling. Place pineapple in jars and ladle enough water to proper headspace.

Next, gather the canning supplies – rings, lids, funnel, ladle, pot to heat water, de-bubbling tool, canning pot and of course, jars. I typically use pint jars, since that’s closest to the amount I would usually use per recipe.

To avoid dirt or debris getting into your jars, go ahead and wash your pineapples in a sink full of water, giving them a good scrub with a dishcloth. As an extra precaution, I wash everything that will be used in the canning process each and every time I begin a canning project. Even though it was washed before it was put away after the previous session, I do not want to take any chance with anything contaminating my end product.

Before you begin cutting and preparing the pineapple, get the water started heating in you canner pot. Place your washed jars into the water so they can heat gradually and sterilize as the water comes to a up to temp in the canner pot. Remember, hot food into hot jars to avoid thermal shock.

I like to place my cutting board in a old cookie sheet to catch the excess juice and to cut down on the mess. Peel and cut your pineapple into slices or chunks, or a combination of both.

No matter which syrup option you choose, the rest of the process is the same:

  1. Remove the hot jar from the canner water.
  2. Fill with pineapple and syrup to within 1/2″ headspace. De-bubble, wipe the rim of the jar, place ring and lid, tightening to fingertip tight.
  3. Place back in canner and proceed to filling the next jar.

Once your canner is full , cover it with the lid and turn your heat to medium high. Make sure your jars are covered by at least 1″ in water. Once the water begins to boil, set your timer for the correct processing time. 15 minutes for pints, 20 minutes for quarts.

When the processing time is done, turn off the heat and leave the canner covered for 5 minutes. Then remove the lid and move jars to a towel or mat in a draft free area to cool.

And that’s it! Aren’t they gorgeous?!

If you’d like to add pineapple to your food storage, now is the perfect time. The peak season is March – July, so it’s at it’s tastiest, and will be cheaper to purchase than when it’s not in season.

I hope this is helpful and I hope you’ll give it a try!

~Blessings~

5 Reasons Why You Should Join the Black Rifle Coffee Club

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I do not receive any monetary compensation for the opinions expressed.

We love coffee.

We drink a lot of coffee.

I am not ashamed to say that we are coffee snobs. We may be frugal, but coffee is one of those things that will not be skimped on. And we like having a variety of our favorite quality coffees to choose from. When one of our favorite brands in on sale, I will go ahead and buy it and add it to the stockpile. We will not run out of coffee in this house.

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About a year ago, a friend suggested that we join the coffee subscription club that he used. When we were researching his club, we came across Black Rifle Coffee Company and decided it was a better choice for us.

We admire their mission and proudly support the company and the many organizations they support by purchasing from them. Here are few of the reasons that make them “near and dear” to our hearts.

They are veteran owned and operated

Founder, Evan Hafer, spent his military career in the special forces and as a military contractor. While in service, he would roast his own coffee beans and pack them with him. In the “About” video on their website, he explains the importance of the bonding over a great cup of coffee to get the day started off right.

Hafer’s goal is to hire 10,000 veterans as they grow. He sees it as his responsibility as a veteran to remind the American people that our veterans don’t need a handout, they need opportunity to transition back into civilian life and receive whatever support they may need – physically, mentally, emotionally.

Exceptional value and a quality product

With roasting facilities in Utah and Tennessee, BRCC can deliver the freshest coffee no matter where you live in America.

We chose the ‘Best of BRCC’ subscription. Each month, we receive a different roast, but we never know which one we’ll receive. It’s always a surprise! But so far, I have to say they’ve all been amazing. (Beyond Black, Coffee or Die and Silencer Smooth have been our favorites)

You are able to create a profile so they have an idea of what type coffee drinker you are and what roasts you might like. So while it’s their choice, you won’t receive light roast if you only like dark ,or decaf if that’s not something you would care for.

With every purchase, they give back

BRCC is committed and passionate about supporting our veterans, first responders and the “American way of life”.

Through BRCC, we have learned of veteran and first responder support organizations and causes we’d never heard of, and we now contribute to them and promote. Boot Campaign and Warriors Heart are two of our favorites. Click this link to read more about these organizations and for a better look at just how much BRCC is giving back and the ‘why’ behind it.

They’re easy to deal with!

There are several different subscription offers, so it’s easy to find one that fits with your preference and budget. Club members receive FREE shipping on all coffee club orders. Shipping frequency is easily adjustable, or you can cancel at anytime with no cancellation fee. They offer excellent customer service including online chat.

There’s a coupon!

If you’re interested in joining the club, click here to receive 20% off!

As I stated above, I do not receive monetary compensation, but I do receive BRCC points to purchase merchandise from their website. And I’m promoting an amazing company with a very important mission. And after you join, you can get referral points too!

And be sure to check them out on youtube. Not only do they make fantastic coffee, but they also make some pretty entertaining videos!

I hope you give these guys a chance and are just as pleased as we are with them. Again, the quality and the value are exceptional and what a meaningful company to support!

~Blessings!~

An Alternative to the Current Astronomical Lumber Prices for Your Building Project

Courtesy of Facebook

Now might be the perfect time to look into purchasing a pre-cut kit to assemble for that garden shed, wood shed or even tiny home!

I first started following Jamaica Cottage Shop back around 2009. Their prices have remained reasonable for amazing quality products all these years. They have several options available for purchase, from plans to fully assembled structures (limited delivery area on fully assembled). You can even access the materials lists to see every component to do your own cost comparison. Once the wood, screws, nails, hinges, shingles, doors, windows, etc. are factored in, I think you’ll see what I mean about the value!

Along with creating a quality product, Jamaica Cottage Shop has the most incredible customer service team. I personally have contacted them over the years by email or phone and they have gladly always taken the time to answer my questions and discuss options with me. They take great pride in their products and the level of service offered.

They’re truly a “rags to riches” story. I have a soft spot for small, family owned businesses and I’ll always help promote the ones I truly believe in.

I have recently joined their Affiliate program, so if you do happen to make a purchase using my link below I will receive a small commission.

Jamaica Cottage Shop is just plain awesome and I wouldn’t promote them if they weren’t.

https://jamaicacottageshop.com/aff/YawategAcres/

Be sure to check them out on youtube for even more information!

~Blessings~