Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Canning for the First Time

I have never myself canned before.  Living out here has me wanting to do all kinds of things for the first time and canning was no exception!  Being the instruction obsessive person that I am I watched webinars, read books and articles, got the Ball book, and read blogs and forums on lots of websites.  After I felt somewhat educated about the process, it was time to shop. I bought jars, lids, tongs, funnel, a pressure cooker, etc.  Then it was time to "do it" and have another 1st time farmgirl experience!

In our little area we have a neighbor that does a garden for all of us to share.  It is beautiful and it was so fun to go over and pick Roma tomatoes and peppers of many varieties.

Here is my stash:

Next it was time to peel the tomatoes.  It was so simple to do.  Just wash the tomatoes, score them with a little "cross" on their end, put into boiling water for a couple of minutes, then into ice water.  Like magic the skins just peel off!

I skinned a bunch of tomatoes for stewed tomatoes, salsa and Italian herb tomatoes.  I followed recipes that I had found on the web and in my cookbook. I found out in my reading that it is important to follow a recipe that is specific for canning so that the acid level is correct and cooking time is correct for that specific recipe.

After the recipes were complete it was time for the jars.  After washing them I began to fill them according to the directions.  A little space needs to be left at the top and the recipe will tell you how much.  You also need to stir out the air bubbles.

Once filled into the pressure cooker they went.  It is really important for you to read your directions that go with your particular pressure cooker so I won't go into instructions on that. I will say though that I was so excited to see the steam and the gauge at work!

My first day of canning yielded me some yummy tomato products and I cannot wait to do more of this.  It was so satisfying and I would highly recommend taking a Saturday to try this if you have not already done so!


Have you canned?  What is your favorite thing to can?

Friday, September 21, 2012


I reconnected tonight with a dear, dear friend that I have not seen in several years.  It was incredibly awesome.  Our lives have taken us on different paths--- I have quit corporate, she has is still there, I have moved to the country and she still fights traffic. BUT at the core, our experiences joys and challenges have been so similar.  Kids, school, families, money, work, play, etc.  -- all of these things do not know location.  We felt like sisters to one another years ago and I left tonight still feeling that same way.  The core joys and sorrows of life know no boundaries and they do not pick and choose us based on location or life style. No matter where one lives it is the human element that brings us together and gives us commonality with one another.  I am so grateful for our past friendship; I am so exhilarated with excitement on connecting again and I am so looking forward to seeing how our paths will continue to intertwine with each other, thus allowing us to grow together and experience more of life.

How about you?  Have you reconnected with someone lately?  If not, I highly recommend it!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

City Pace

I have been back in the city for two weeks due to a family medical incident.  All is well on that front and my daughter is recovering nicely, but the pace of a city grabs back onto you quickly and before you know it you are back in a rush.  Visiting my daughters has been supreme; I miss them alot! But the city... I do not miss that!

For many months now in the country I have been practicing things like running errands once a week instead of every day running an errand, single tasking vs. multitasking, eating a more wholesome and pure diet, slowing down and showering in the evening, taking vitamins, drinking a slow cup of tea, working in my garden and sewing.

Two weeks back in city life and I have ran some sort of errand everyday--I mean there is everything so close and it makes you think of things you "need.".  I find myself munching on bagged popcorn this morning (honestly I did not even know this existed).  I keep skipping my vitamins- I just don't take the time.  Tea is made but left to sit while I hustle doing other "necessary" things.You get the picture. I think in a nutshell I just feel hurried again.  Traffic is fast and folks are short with you while servicing you as they have many other things to do and I am just caught up in life in the fast lane again.  It is amazing how quickly this happens-- we are not talking days or weeks here but hours!

Today I drive my daughter back home to south Georgia where the pace is slower.  Saturday I head back to my home out in the country. It makes me wonder why it feels so different.  I have heard it said that you can change location but not the way you react.  I am not so sure about that any more.  I think location has much to do with how you feel and react.  Slow begets slow and fast begets fast.  Polite begets politeness and rudeness begets rudeness.  Maybe the key is to be the instigator or slow, polite, calm and deliberate no matter where you are. Some of the most grounded people I know live in the midst of a big city.  Maybe my changing with the location has more to do with my lack of commitment to my values than to the surroundings.    Am I that easily swayed?  Apparently so. It has been a real eye opener being back.  Next time maybe I can bring the "country" here rather than absorbing the "city" while here.

What do you think?  Similar experiences and lessons?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lessons Learned from Hauling Your Trash In

One of the big differences between the sub division life and life in the country is trash!  And I am not talking about quantity or pollution or waste (that is another blog), but how you get rid of it!

In the subdivision we had a trash truck that came around every Tuesday a.m. at 7:30 a.m. and would empty our trash, recycle bin and take our bags of leaves and yard stuff.  On Monday night we would scurry, get all the trash and recyclables in their cans and roll them to the end of the drive and be so happy that someone was getting it the next day.  Never mind that we were limited to how much (if we had a big project going on we would get one of those construction dumpsters on the drive) and we just didn't bat an eye at the $100 bill every quarter that we got for this service.  On Tuesday evening we would scurry again, but to the end of the driveway to pull up our cans and put them out of site so that we would not get evil looks from neighbors or receive the ever dreaded letter from the ACC reminding us that we needed to pull up the cans on the same day that they were emptied. Oh and by the way, don't roll them down the night before--if you happen to be working in your yard on Sunday it was a "no no" to leave the bags down there for Tuesday; they needed to come up the drive and then venture back down for the trash crew.

When we moved and swapped utilities I noticed that we did not get info on our trash service.  At the closing table I asked "where do we take our trash?"  The answer was "you take it all to Chelsea"  and I thought "who is Chelsea and why does she want my trash????"  In further questioning we were told that several places had trash drop off and Chelsea was one of those.  We were in town for the weekend of the closing and had done work in the house.  Before heading back to Atlanta, we loaded up trash and headed to the town of Chelsea.  We had no idea what we were looking for, but thought that we would figure it out.  Sure enough, we got to Chelsea and pulled into the little market.  We looked across the street and there was a trash truck and a man sitting in a lawn chair.  We drove over.

Conversation went like this:
"Hi, we are here to bring you our trash."
"You gotta card?"  (we must have looked like newbies I guess)
"Card? What card? We closed on our house and they told us to bring trash to Chelsea and here we are (big smile)"
"Need a card"
"Where do we get a card?"
"At the county but this is a holiday, they are closed"
"Oh, what county and where do we go?"
"OK... I will take your trash this time but you figure it out before next time, ok???"
"Oh thank you, thank you. We are heading back to Atlanta and we really don't want to take the trash!  Thank you, thank you"
"No problem"-- sympathy smile as I am sure he was thinking, "you city folks have a lot to learn!"

So we got the card which by the way was $24 for an entire year (jump for joy). AND have been dropping trash off ever since.

What I have learned from the paradigm shift of becoming my own trash hauler:

  • You are much more conscience about what you are tossing out!  Trash is heavy and less is, well more manageable.
  • It is a social event; you get to know your trash collector and others who drop off with you.  You look forward to saying "hi" to others. They become part of your weekly routine.
  • You help others unload and don't mind asking others for assistance to help you unload.
  • If stuff isn't really trash you save it to the side in your truck.  There are all kinds of people looking for stuff; there is the metal collector guy for instance that fills his trailer daily with stuff, sells it and feeds his household with his income from that.
  • You hear GREAT stories about stuff that people bring. Like the women cleaning out a deceased relatives house and brought everything in bags.  Our trash collector rummaged through and got an entire set of cast iron skillets in perfect condition. Or the couple who brought stuff they had "forever" and one of the items was an altar stone with a relic in it (for you that are Catholic you understand the significance and rarity of this event!)
  • I think of others as I sort through my boxes that I am unpacking.  There is a woman with children that now has some of the precious toys that my children played with.  It makes me so happy knowing where they are at and having a picture of her and her kids in my head with them.
  • No one cares what you look like!  Like I said this is a social event, but not one you primp for.  It is a true "come as you are" event.  
  • No matter your income, everyone is totally the same when unloading your own trash and tossing it in!
  • I have to take a break from work to do this; it is a great thing to have on the calendar.  Every week for 1 hour I must be away from my laptop and work and thinking of only the basics!
I never thought that I would LOVE this change so much, but I do.  I think even if I ever find myself in a situation again where I can get pick up, I will still seek out where the real folks are, taking there own stuff, saying hello, helping out and giving to one another.