Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Why October is my new favorite month

Has it really been that long since I last posted?  WOW!

The end of August and the entire month of September has been a whirlwind of activity for me.  The beginning of the school year is a fantastic, stressful, wonderful, crazy time. 

I used to say that summer is my favorite time of the year.  It's warm.  It doesn't rain as much around here.  There is no pressure of a real schedule for the kids and I.  We see friends more often and have lots of barbeque dinners with guests all the time.  I love that time of year.

I have to admit though, as a teacher, October is my new favorite month.

September is spent getting to know everything about a new school year.  The class and I are getting to know all the personalities in room 262.  We are all adjusting to routines and procedures.  I am constantly adjusting to see what works best for my students.  They are constantly adjusting to see where my boundaries are and when I really will give out detentions.

As a new teacher, I am adjusting to all the teacherery things that come with a new school year.  Teacher evaluation requirements and working with the state's websites.  Attending workshops and staff training days are a new experience.  Figuring out all the forms that come with a new job was a special kind of frustration.  Most of all, trying to figure out a schedule that makes me feel like I am in control of what happens in the classroom without loosing control of what happens at the home front.

Now, October is a whole new story.

October is when the class has gone through it's initial adjustments.  The students know my boundaries, and I know most of their tricks.  I feel like I know their little personalities enough to be able to predict how a group is going to work.  I can say who is a good leader and who needs a little leadership.  I can see who needs a little word of encouragement and who needs a bit of alone time to figure things out.

October is when I start to feel really in control of my schedule.  I bring home less to grade over the weekends and spend more evenings walking with my family.  Most of the week I'm home early enough for some activity before I need to cook dinner.  Miracle of miracles, dinner is being served before 8pm.

October is a lovely month.

I still love summer.  But, October has a new place in my list of favorite things.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I know, I know, it's been a while.

Highlights of our summer include....

Our eldest graduated from eighth grade.  Oh goodness, I have a high schooler!!!

We went camping at Yellowstone.  This is the one and only beautiful picture I took.  Most of the trip it was raining and cloudy.  Though we did get to sit in the tent during a nice thunder and lighting storm!

Praise the LORD, my garden actually produced!!!  In fact, it's still producing.  I've been collecting produce almost everyday.  I am SO happy!

My husband is a nut.  He decided he needed to catch a seagull.  No seagulls were harmed during this interaction.  In fact, the seagull got it's revenge on my hubby by biting him repeatedly in the face.  The seagull was released to go and tell his buddies how much of a big bad bird he was. 
I haven't canned much and I've been busy working on my classroom and getting it ready for the fall.  Hopefully, I'll be posting a bit next week.  I'm going to be canning tuna and soups for lunches again.
See you all soon, I hope!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Three Bean Chili By The Jar

Today I'm canning chili!  I'm doing it by the jar so I don't have to make a huge pot of chili first.

The night before I put some kidney, pinto, and black beans to soak.  While I get all the prep work done for the chopped veggies, I put the beans on to simmer for 20 minutes.  I've found recipes that say to put the dry beans in there,  but I hate crunchy beans.  This way I know they will be cooked through.

In each pint jar layer....

1/2 peeled and chopped roma tomato
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup simmered beans
1/2 cup browned burger
1 Tablespoon chopped onion
2 Tablespoon green chilies (from a can)
2 Tablespoon tomato sauce
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/3 cup chicken broth

After all these ingredients were in the jars, I used a plastic spatula to go down the inside of the jars.  This got all the broth down into the air spaces between the beans and the burger.  I kept topping off the jars with hot water until it no longer went down into the air spaces when I used the spatula on the sides.  Then I filled each jar up to the 1 inch headspace line with hot water.  You could continue to use the chicken broth.  The amount I had heated up just happened to put 1/3 cup in each of my ten pint jars.

Process in a pressure canner for 90 minutes at 10lbs pressure (sea level).  Adjust process times accordingly for your altitude.

My inspiration for this came from here if you are interested in looking at their original recipe.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Watermelon Jelly

Watermelon jelly.  Sounds dreamy right?  Fresh watermelon is the best thing in the summer.  Wouldn't it be great to have that flavor in the winter too?!

Earlier this week I was inspired by this post.  The color of that watermelon jam just screamed at me!  Oh, cool watermelon on toast!  That just sounded heavenly.  So, I decided to try it!  Here are my alterations and how it all turned out.

Watermelon Jelly
1 seedless watermelon
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 cups sugar
3 Tablespoons of low/no sugar pectin (equals one box)

The first step is to crush all the juice out of the melon.  I used my food strainer, but it was still some work.  You will need a total of 6 cups of juice.  I didn't quite use one good sized seedless melon.

Put the juice, lemon juice, and sugar in a big pot and bring to a rolling boil.  Stir constantly. Keep it at a rolling boil for five minutes.  Then add in the pectin powder.

Bring back to a rolling boil and keep boiling for another 5 minutes.  Keep stirring!

Ladle into prepared jars and waterbath for ten minutes.

This recipe made eight 4oz jars and one pint of jelly.

Now, I opened up a jar this morning for my toast.  MMMMM!  But not what I expected.  It was a very soft set.  Most of my jelly is because it is low sugar.  It has a very mild sweet flavor.  Almost like grape jelly.  I don't taste watermelon at all.  It is good though!  So, if you want a nice mild sweet jelly that is a beautiful pink color (pictures don't do it justice!), make some!  If you are wanting that sweet melon flavor...not so much.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

My First Harvest!


I finally got food from my garden!!
It looks like this was the year for me!  I am finally having some success in my garden.  All the plants are looking happy and healthy.  I harvested several heads of broccoli and two zucchini today.  MMM..I'm going to fry one of those zucchini up in butter with garlic.  Oh, heaven!  The other zucchini and broccoli will go into some Kung Pao Chicken.  I am unbelievably excited by this little basket of goodness! 
It's been crazy around here.  We just got back from our yearly family road trip.  This year it was Yellowstone National Park.  I'll put up a post soon with pics.  Plus, I've been trying to get all the stuff organized for my classroom.  So many fun things to come!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Summer is Coming!

Summer is coming!
For my family, that means camping, hiking, traveling, cleaning, canning, and relaxing.  We have many plans this summer and hopefully I'll be able to keep up with the blog throughout.  I have added in the big project of getting ready for my first year as a full time teacher.  Lots of organizing, projects, and planning for me this summer!  I hope you will join me in our summer adventures.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

May the Fourth be with my garden this year!

Well, we've made some progress!  Here is my garden area all tilled, fenced, and ready for plants.  I am SO excited!
My seedlings are all ready and waiting to go into the garden.  I even have peas actually ready to pick on the seedlings!  Plus, a friend gave me three grocery bags full of onion starts.  I'll need to find a good place for those to grow every year in my garden.

Spring has finally sprung.  We've had beautiful weather and I am looking forward to a sucessful garden this year!

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