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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dusk on Pokeberry Hill



Hubby knows some of my frustrations with things I try to do. One of them is getting better photos. I'm always trying to improve my photos and also to learn more about software that can be used to work with photos or graphics. One difficulty I've had is in focusing my new camera. I tend to have a very difficult time for some reason holding the camera still enough! I get all these blurry photos because of it--especially when I want to photograph a landscape. Last night Hubby brought home a borrowed tripod for me to try. I got the landscape of our hillside at dusk with it. I'm going to borrow it for about a week and hopefully in that time I'll get some interesting photos. Then I guess we'll see about finding a tripod for me to buy. I still haven't learned all the settings on my camera so often I am a little surprised at my outcomes when I do certain things. The one above I thought was pretty, I know its not 'great' but I liked it. This is part of what I see out my window when I am sitting here at my table with my laptop. That view is part of why we chose to buy this crazy do it yourself house.

Well its just about 7 am. I slept a little later than usual--but not much. I have a couple of big stock pots going on the stove this morning. My giant pot has a collection of chicken carcasses in it and veggie scraps--for the most part celery, onion and carrot. The smaller stock pot is full of shrimp skins and a mix of veggie scraps that includes the onions, celery and carrots but also tomato and pepper scraps--both hot and sweet peppers.

Yesterday I shopped at Sam's club and brought home some chickens that were marked down and some big blocks of cheese and a few other thing we use. I had all those stock ingredients in my little chest freezer so they had to come out and be turned into stock or broth in order to make room for a little higher quality of food. I am thinking I would like to can some of this stock and keep it in my root cellar pantry, This would keep it from cluttering up freezer space. I'm using more and more homemade stock and it seems like the more I do from scratch the more I think of doing from scratch. Also the more I venture out to the stores the more I think of my garden.

EGADS! The prices seem to be going up every week--not on each item--but I notice something every time I shop. The past 2 weeks I'm noticing a big rise in canned vegetables. This seems to be in every store. Aldi is currently the least expensive, although they too have raised prices--but are still about 20cents a can less than 'normal stores' The chain stores like Food Lion or Harris Teeter have gotten to where the sale prices are higher than the normal prices were in December. Yesterday I noted that the canned veggies are also much higher at Sam's Club now.

Back in November I know I was paying less than 50 cents a can for veggies at Aldi--they are now 53 or 55-- I lost my receipt last time I was there so I couldn't update my list--but I have to stop there today so I will do so soon. I believe Sams was about what Aldi is now--but is now in the 70cents plus range for the same size cans as are Food Lion and Harris Teeter--although they call these sale prices.

Anyhow I guess I want to get some practice in with my pressure canner--make it a part of my habits and the pattern of my day. If I use it more often it won't seem like such a big deal when the garden starts to produce this summer. It is familiarity with a process that makes it easier. Same thing with my camera and computer and eventually listing things on Etsy.

I figured a good way to start using that canner more is to start canning stock and broth and chicken rather than loading up my freezer quite so much with those things.
I have a side by side fridge~freezer and I have a fairly small chest freezer. With the garden I intend to do this year I will either need to increase freezer space or do much more canning. I think canning makes more sense. Its cheaper and you don't have to worry if the electric goes out. I also want to get very good at canning chicken and broth/stock before I purchase any chickens. Another plus to doing the canning is that I can share food with Daughter more easily.

My new chicken keeping book is at the post office waiting to be picked up. I have to go there anyhow because I've been riding around with my grand-daughter's box in my car for about a week. The book arrived during our icy days and the mail lady couldn't fit it in our box. Our hill was treacherous so she didn't attempt to drive up it--nor did we attempt to drive down. Its all good. Gives me a good reason to MAKE MYSELF go to the post office as I should have last week.

Later today I also am planning to stop in at my daughter's and I will stop at Aldi on the way there. I'm so intrigued by the price rises lately I guess I just want to keep an eye on that--although there are also a few things there I need, and I want to pick up some things for her as well. I know she and not-so-plump Ernie are broke right now. She was also told to stay home from work a few days, and he stayed with her yesterday. Nothing has happened however, except that she has tried to adjust to the idea that she doesn't know what is going to happen with the pregnancy. She has an appointment with a specialist tomorrow afternoon, if nothing changes, we'll know more after we see him. He will see what her blood levels are and do another ultrasound to see if there is anything new. I'm still hoping this is all going to be OK. There is a 30% chance it will--that's the positive view of it. The odds could be worse couldn't they?

In any case God knows what He is doing and what His purposes aren't. I'll trust in His will, as I've had to do in so many other inexplicable things in life.

What else can one do?

We are having rain but at least it is not freezing. My goodness what a sloppy ugly fall and winter it has been! Just not at all like what we would have normally. My son's guest arrived from Wisconsin to a sunny warm day on Thursday and ended up housebound with us most of the frozen weekend before he flew back to Milwaukee. He must wonder how he managed to plan his mini-vacation for an ice storm in South Carolina. Well, he was good natured about it, so that's good.

While at Sam's yesterday I picked up some fresh cardboard box bottoms--or trays. The sort they keep in the big bins for customers to take free. I plan to wash some of the jars in my root cellar and swap out the cardboard trays or boxes they've been in. Some of them are very old and yucky as the former owner here left me quite a few boxes of jars. The jars need to be cleaned and then I will wrap them several times with recycled plastic grocery bags to keep them clean. I'll still have sterilize them whenever I want to do any canning but at least I won't have to scrub off year's of dust and worry about spiders as well. I figure I can do a couple boxes a week or so and check each jar for cracks as well.

Most of the jars are old recycled mayonnaise jars. I've asked around and researched and I've been told by someone I truly trust on this topic--Jackie Clay of Backwoods Home Magazine-- that you can use these for canning not only in a boiling water bath canner but also in a pressure canner. she has done so repeatedly and says she has not had any more breakage with them than with normal canning jars. Since this is a woman who has canned hundreds of jars of things every year for longer than I've been married and written a book on the topic as well--I figure she knows what she's talking about.

Now watch... I'll bust a whole pot full of them on my first try! ~smile~

Seriously, I think I have about 7 dozen or more of these jars, they must be good for something.

Well.. off I go to get the day moving. I think since Hubby couldn't take time to help me with gimp last night and I need to just get this done--I will go ahead and do my first listings on Etsy with photos that I'm not 100% thrilled with. There comes a point where you just need to 'get it done' and worry about details later.

One last thing on my To-Do list today is to get my mind made up and order whatever seeds and plants I want for spring. I'm going to get those Ernie's plump tomato seeds and also some grapes, and a few smaller fruit and nut plants this spring. Its time to order! I think also I will order peanuts--although I can probably buy those at the little hardware store near my old library, I'm hoping to go there tomorrow--we'll see-- the day could be a bit too full since I have blood work in a town to our east in the morning and want to accompany Daughter to her appointment to our west in the late afternoon. Sigh.. a push me pull you day! Maybe I need to scale something down there? I had planned part of the day to be an outing with my friend. We shall see..

Looks like a full day~or days ahead of me. Please continue to keep Daughter in your prayers as she waits to find out what's happening & Have a Pokeberry Day!

1 comment:

  1. Your daughter remains in my prayers, Mary!

    Sounds like a busy day tomorrow!!!

    Gotta go see what you have gotten into Etsy so far!!! Very exciting!

    Lucky you have all those jars!!! I use a mayo jar with stocking over top to grow my alfalfa seed sprouts! I need to get a new batch started!!!

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