Tag Archives: canning

What a Weekend!!

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What a full weekend we had. It was packed to the gills with projects, places to go, and things to do. It was a crazy weekend, but a productive weekend…and boy did we all sleep well Sunday night!

Here is a peek into all the craziness we crammed into a 48-hour period…

Saturday began at 7:00 am. Rusty had a bike ride scheduled with the other young men from church. They planned to meet up at 7:45 and would be gone most of the morning. The plan was to conclude their excursion at the comic book store where an annual basement blowout was being held, offering thousands of comics for only $1.oo/each.

Rusty “rolled” back home around noon, tired and happy, eager to show off his comic book finds.

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The big task of the day was canning. A friend from church found a great deal on apples that we couldn’t pass up. We bought two bushels and the plan was to spend the day turning our bushels of apples into applesauce and apple pie filling. When these plans were made I thought I’d have a whole crew of helpers in the kitchen with me for the day, but soon other opportunities began to trump canning, leaving me in the kitchen with a revolving door of helpers coming and going through the day.

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My first helper of the day was Tyler. He had a few hours until he needed to leave the house and eagerly jumped on the task of coring and peeling apples for applesauce.

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At 10:00 am he had to leave with Toby and the girls jumped into his place as second and third in command.

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Tyler and Toby were off to Pittsburgh for some unexpected fun. The previous night, while out with friends, we were offered two free tickets to a Pitt football game at Heinz field. It was decided that Toby would take Tyler. Tyler is by far the biggest football fan in the family and we knew he could use some Daddy/son time after the unsettling week he had had seeing Ozzie leave.

It was just what they both needed. They were able to escape for a few hours and enjoy some mindless fun and male bonding over football and popcorn, and they had a perfect day for it. The weather was beautiful!

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At 11:00 am I lost Grace and Molly as canning helpers when they left for an event at Gracie’s school. As part of Gracie’s American Sign Language classes, she must attend a certain number of deaf events each semester. This is something Grace looks forward to and on this particular Saturday her ASL club was hosting a tie-dye activity at the school. Grace decided to invite Molly along. Molly has struggled a bit with the life changes that have occurred in our home lately. The absence of Ozzie and seeing less of Grace due to Gracie’s busy school and work schedule, has left her feeling a bit lost. Noticing this, Grace invited Molly out for a sister date. They made plans to attend the tie-dye activity and then go to Rita’s for an Italian ice after the event was over.

Both girls had a wonderful time. The ASL club had a good turn out and everyone enjoyed getting messy. The club supplied socks for everyone to tie-dye, but participants could bring other items to tie-dye as well. Grace and Molly each brought a pillowcase to color. It was a fun activity for them to share. Molly enjoyed getting to know some of Gracie’s college friends, and enjoyed getting to use some of her ASL skills.

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At noon Rusty returned home, thanks to a kind young men’s leader who dropped him off on our doorstop, and then Rusty jumped into the fray of apple canning. At this point I was onto apple pie filling and Rusty helped me peel, core, and slice apples for the pie filling. He was a great help and my efficiency increased significantly with another set of hands in the kitchen.

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We also made a large batch of oven dried cinnamon apple slices to enjoy as snacks. As the slices slowly dried in the warm ovens the entire house took on the delicious smell of autumn.

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Around this same time Toby was heading back out of Pittsburgh to pick up the girls (after they dropped off Mimi Joy’s car that she graciously lent them for the day) and head up north for Tyler’s equine therapy.

He had another wonderful session on his horse, Smokey, and he enjoyed sharing his experience with Toby and the girls. He is a natural on the horse and we are finding the lessons to be hugely therapeutic.

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After lessons Toby and the kids made a quick stop at Baldingers Candy Shop for some sweet treats.

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It was now 3:00 pm and things were winding down in the kitchen. The apple slices were dried and the canning was complete. My legs ached and I was covered in dried, sticky, apple juice…but what a satisfying feeling it was to gaze upon the fruits of our labors!

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It also happened to be General Conference weekend, a twice annual event in our church where we have the opportunity to hear from leadership in the form of a worldwide broadcast. It is a special weekend comprised of 4 two-hour sessions that we can watch from the comfort of our own home and receive counsel, guidance and uplifting messages from inspired speakers. We try to make it an extra special experience with a fun breakfast, activities, and booklets to help the kids take notes and stay engaged.

On Sunday morning, Rusty volunteered to be in charge of breakfast. He stumbled across a recipe online that he wanted to try. It was peanut butter and jelly French toast…and it was delicious!

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While Rusty cooked breakfast, everyone else sat down to write a letter to Ozzie. This will become a regular Sunday task. My plan is to help facilitate connection between the kids through pen pal letters. There is healing that needs to occur and written letters seem a good way to foster a renewed connection in a safe and non-threatening way. The stack of letters will then be mailed one at a time through the week, creating a steady influx of mail for Ozzie, hopefully making him feel of our love and letting him know he is not forgotten.

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For General Conference, I printed out our traditional bingo game and filled a bowl with our “prizes,” as well as created note taking doodle packets for the kids to use as they watched.

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It was wonderful to spend that time as a family and receive inspired guidance and direction.

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Sunday afternoon we also had a visit with Ozzie. It couldn’t have gone any better. He is doing beautifully and this Momma’s heart overflowed with gratitude to see him so at peace. It was a joy to get that time with him to catch up and reconnect.

Sunday night we enjoyed a game night for our Family Night activity. Friends from co-op, who also are avid board gamers, lent us an escape room game they purchased. We love these sorts of games and this one was no exception. We had a blast racing the clock and working as a team to solve the puzzles needed to win the game.

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We were successful!

It truly was a non-stop, crazy weekend…

Filled to the brim with busyness…

Filled to the brim with blessings!

A Berry Busy Day

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On Friday we left the house at 10:00am and didn’t return until 2:00am. It was a very full day filled with an abundance of blessings.

Our day consisted of strawberry picking, a graduation party, a school bus inspection, a two hour drive to pick up Tyler’s biological brother for a weekend visit, an unexpected request to babysit two of our little friends for the weekend, and an evening at the drive-in movie theatre to see “Finding Dory!”

That is a lot of crazy crammed in one day, but we pulled it off!

Due in large part to Toby!

 Not every man would so willingly take on as much as my man does. He is a living example of being “all in.” He doesn’t flinch. He doesn’t waver. He doesn’t run. When asked to take on three extra kids over Father’s Day weekend he just smiles and says, “What’s one more? …or three more?”  🙂

I think I won the husband lottery and have no idea how I got so lucky. Our life is often crazy and messy and loud and chaotic but there is no one I’d rather be navigating it with than this man. Today, as I write this blog and try to catch up on recording all that happened this weekend, I reflect on the blessing of my husband. Today is our 19th anniversary and I can’t help but think how boring my life would be without him.

It was Toby that called Friday morning from work and told me to have the kids dressed and ready to go. He was done at work and suggested we go strawberry picking as a family. It was a beautiful day, sunny and not too warm, a perfect day to be in the fields.

We drove out to Catalpa Grove Farm. Friends introduced us to Catalpa’s six years ago and it has been our go-to “you pick” farm ever since.

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This was Ozzie’s first time picking strawberries with us since we didn’t make it out to Catalpa’s last summer. He was very excited and the kids were eager to share the experience with him.

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When we arrived we stopped at the front booth to pick up the wire baskets that hold our quart containers. Then we drove out to the fields where we were assigned the rows that we were to pick from.

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We were told to pick as much as we liked (The cost was $3.00/qt) and to enjoy sampling the strawberries while we worked. 🙂

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It took us about an hour to pick 24 quarts. Each person was given three quart containers to fill when we arrived, and then those who finished first helped fill the last few.

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As I knelt in the wet hay that lined the aisles,

with the sun warming my shoulders and the scent of strawberries in the air,

I counted my blessings…

All 6 of them

with strawberry stained lips.

Everyone had a good time picking, visiting, and sampling.

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When we were done we headed back to the front gate to pay for our haul

then we parked and headed inside for another Catalpa tradition:

strawberry slushies!

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Catalpa’s yummy strawberry slushies have become our annual reward for everyone’s hard work in the field. They are made from the strawberries grown there and are a delicious, cold treat.

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After enjoying our slushies we drove back home to put the berries in the fridge to keep until we could process them on Saturday morning,

before we headed back on the road for the remainder of the day.

The next morning, with the “help” of 8 children we cleaned, cut and prepared 24 quarts of strawberries for jam and freezing.

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Half the strawberries were turned into jam (30 jars of jam) and the other half were bagged for future recipes and to be used to make smoothies.

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Even Harley got to enjoy the fruits of our labor when we gave him the bowl of strawberry foam that was skimmed from the top of the jam.

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All in all it was a “Berry” good day!