Saturday, July 24, 2010

Strawberry Jam

Gardening has become a great hobby for us.  Each year we expand and try more.  Our second year of gardening we also started canning.  James’ grandmother canned everything.  I don’t remember my grandmothers canning that much, but I’m sure they did.  We want our girls to leave our home knowing how to grow and save their own food.  I am going to share our experience of canning strawberry jam.

We always begin any canning process by sterilizing our jars and lids.  The water needs to reach 180 degrees.


First, wash the strawberries and cut the stems and any bad spots off.  Don’t they look yummy!


Second,  smash the strawberries.  The was James’ job this time.


Next, add one box of Pectin to 4 cups of strawberries.  We also added 1/4 tsp. of butter.  Bring to a rolling boil.


Then add 7 cups of sugar and boil for exactly 1 minute.


Finally fill jars and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.  The result is yum, yum, yum!


So far this year we have canned 72 quarts of green beans, 24 half pints of strawberry jam, 9 half pints of blackberry jam, 14 quarts of tomato juice, 3 pints of pickles, and 5 pints of banana peppers.  They are beautifully placed at the top of my cabinets.




Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Homeplace

There is a really cool place at Land Between the Lakes called The Homeplace.  I highly recommend visiting there if you are interested in pioneer days.  You can tour all the buildings at your own pace.  There are people their in costume doing activities from that time period.  This is what we were hoping the Laura Ingalls Wilder house would have been like.  The girls were able to play lots of games that children would have played in pioneer days.  Someone actually stays there and lives off of the food from the garden and livestock.  They have pens for pigs, chickens, sheep, cows, oxen and horses.  The buildings on site were living quarters, the kitchen, smoke house, and several barns.  It was a great day of learning and exploring.

104_0693This lady was working on quilt squares.  Lulu really wants to make a quilt.  She was explaining to her how to make a simple nine square quilt pattern.  Another girl was knitting a dishcloth.  The girls were telling her that they know how to knit.

104_0699Lil really liked this doll.  There were cornhusk dolls in on of the rooms as well.  They had clothing that kids could dress them up in.  All three girls had such a great time here.  It was a really nice experience.

104_0702This is the kitchen area.   Lots of cast iron pots.  James wanted to sneak some of the home with us :)


Lil was pretending to knit while she was sitting by the fire.104_0728I cannot remember the actual name of this game.  The girls want James to make them a set though.  Basically you have a hoop, like an embroidery hoop, that is wrapped with ribbons for decoration and two pointed sticks for each person playing.  You cross the sticks inside the hoop and pull your arms apart quickly to send the hoop flying off your sticks to the other person.  The girls practiced this for a really long time.104_0734Lil and James ready to carry water.  Our kids have it so easy today.  These were very heavy empty.104_0737 Lulu and Monkey gave it a try as well.



James would love to live like this.  I really enjoy camping and trying to live more simply, but I don’t think I am ready to live this simple. 


My prairie girls!


Of course Lil had to see what it would be like to be a young lad as well.


I like this picture of James and his dad.  We had a great visit with him and his wife.  The girls stayed with them for a few days after James and I came home.  It was a nice break for all of us but I sure was glad to get them back home.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Trip to Branson, Missouri

Our vacation spot this year was Branson.  We wanted to go somewhere different than the beach.  We stopped by St. Louis on our way.  Our library has a really great section of education DVD’s.  James found one on the building of the St. Louis Arch.  We watched the video with the girls before our trip.  So when we stopped at the arch we all had a greater appreciation of structure.  It is still amazing that no one died while building it. 
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104_0523104_0565 Lil and Monkey enjoyed putting their toes in the Mississippi River.  We read Minn of the Mississippi this year by Holling C. Holling so that made it more special.
Our resort in Branson was nice.  We did a lot of swimming, a little fishing, a little shopping, and lots of relaxing.  It was probably the most restful vacation we have taken.  Our big night out was to the Dixie Stampede Dinner Show.  James and I went to this in Pigeon Forge on our honeymoon.  The girls loved it!
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If you know us, you know that the girls and I love Little House on the Prairie.  On our way to James’ dad’s house from Branson we passed Mansfield, Missouri.  This is where Laura and Almanzo lived in their later years of life.  We stopped to tour their house, the rock house Rose had built for them and the museum.  I have to say we were disappointed in the experience.  They were very hands off and I couldn’t take any pictures inside the houses or the museum.  I am pretty sure Laura would not approve.  The girls did not enjoy the house, but did like the museum.  They have many things that Laura and Mary made, i.e. clothing, knitting projects, toys, etc.  Pa’s fiddle is on display and they even take it out once a year to play it.  I am glad we took the time to stop, but do wish the mood would have been more inviting. 
104_0657 104_0670 Overall we had another great vacation.  On our way home we stopped at James’ dad’s house in Western Kentucky.  We had a nice weekend visit with them.  While we were there we went to The Homeplace.  I will share about that in another post.