Friday, July 30, 2010

Memories of Summer in the Holler

I  can't believe summer is almost over. I can't believe school starts for Jackson in 1.5 weeks. I can't believe my firstborn child is going to be in kindergarten! I can't believe summer is almost over!!!

I remember when I was their seemed as though summer lasted forever. I have great memories of all those summers. You see, I grew up on the outskirts of an 8 room farmhouse, baby. (Ok, it was a 7 room close to living out the song "Cherry Bomb.") Anyway...those were the good ol' days. No, really. I don't remember doing anything super exciting. We just did normal kid stuff. I think we were outside playing from the time the sun came up in the morning until it melted back down on the other side of the world. We played in the barns, jumped off the chicken coop (which I swear is why I no longer have cartilage in my knees), and we ate vegetables straight from the garden.  

I remember one summer, after watching mud wrestling at the Jackson County Fair (man, I love the holler) brother and I dragged the hose out to the garden and had our own mud wrestling contest. I remember the blue terry cloth outfit I wore and how it felt wonderful to be covered in the cold, refreshing mud. I also remember the fear I felt when my mom discovered us mud wrestling. I'm still amazed that she was ok with it. I also remember how cold it was being rinsed off outside with the garden hose before we were allowed to go back inside the house.

I remember learning to ride a bike on a little old red and white bicycle that had been passed down in the family. I also remember riding the bike into a gutter and popping the wheel off the front. I remember crying, because of all the kids that rode that bike, I was the one to break it. And I remember my dad telling me not to's no big deal...the bike wasn't that special after all.

I remember my older brother and I sitting outside in the evenings.  I remember feeling the heat and humidity and thinking nothing of it at all.  I remember watching the "heat lightening" off in the distance...and I remember my brother telling me it was nuclear warfare going on in Russia.  (I, of course, believed him...because he was my older brother...and super smart...and he knew everything.)

I also remember how excited I was to go back to school in the fall. It was just "that feeling" of starting a new school year. The excitement of a new teacher. Of new folders. Of seeing all my friends again. I wonder what my boys are feeling now? Are they going to have that same sense of excitement? That excitement that is also laced with nervousness and apprehension? I hope that they do...because it's a feeling they'll always remember but never really be able to explain.

I hope more than anything that they are making good memories. I hope that their summer was fulfilling...even though we seem to keep things simple....just like when I was growing up. Bible school. Swim lessons. The park. The lake. The backyard. This is where we've spent our summer...and I think it was a good one.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Well That's. Just. Peachy.

One of my latest obsessions this past year is becoming more aware of what I eat. No, I'm not talking about dieting. I'm talking about food that I consume...what it is....what's in it....and where it comes from. I've only begun to scratch the surface of this new adventure but I plan to share some things with you that I learn along the way. Don't hop on over to another blog just may actually learn something with me... and become more healthy and aware (and frightened) of these things also.

There are so many things to be aware of that it is really difficult to decide where to start rambling about this stuff. Should we discuss the toxins of plastic? The toxins of artificial sweeteners? The ill affects regular ol' grocery store meat has on your body? No. (But I'll probably discuss that stuff eventually.) So, where do we start? Well, it's summer and fruit and veggies are popping up everywhere! So whaddya' say we start there? With peaches. (Now repeat after me...Great! Sounds fun! Can't wait to learn more!....humor me already.)

I think peaches are actually the perfect place to start! Why, you ask? (No, really...I just heard one of you ask me why.) Well, because they are in the peak of their season right now and they ranked number 2 on the dirty dozen list. (Last year they were ranked number one.)

Ok, I've lost some of you. What's the dirty dozen? It's a list of the top 12 pesticide ridden foods (based on information from the USDA and FDA). In other's a list of food to avoid eating unless you can buy organic. Did you know that if you avoid the dirty dozen you can decrease the amount of pesticides in your body by 80%??? Scary. Check out the link above to read the dirtiest and cleanest fruits and veggies. Print out the list and put it in your wallet so you know what to buy when you go shopping.

Back to peaches. My family loves them. My kids eat them for lunch at least twice a week. So in order to avoid poisoning my peeps, I decided to hoard some organic peaches and can them for later in the year.

Canning, you say? You must be crazy! Yes, pretty much.

Last weekend I made a trip to Whole Foods (aka...Mecca) and bought 20 pounds of peaches. Aren't they gorgey?First came the hard part...peeling the darned things. I'd read on several websites that boiling was the way to go. Simply cut an X in the bottom of the peach, boil for 30-60 seconds, then put into cold water...and the peels just slip right off!

Yeah....slip right ass they do. The trick didn't work for me, so instead I ended up with 8 boiled peaches that would not peel for the life of me! Needless to say the boiled peaches didn't make the batch. Bastards.

So after hand peeling the rest of the peaches I was ready for canning. (About this time in the process Brad asked if I was having fun. Can't say that I was!) I tossed the peeled peaches in a citric acid soak so they will stay pretty and not turn brown.

Meanwhile, my jars were heating up in a pot of simmering water and my light syrup (made with organic sugar, of course) was also cooking. At this point in the game I started heating the other ginormous pot of water to process the peaches. Note to time start boiling the water takes over an hour to get a big pot of water to boil!

Brad came into the kitchen to check on me and asked, "Why are you doing this again?"

Because I love you. Now shut-up and pour me a large glass of wine.

Now I was ready to roll! I drained the peaches from the citric acid soak. Looking good!

I packed them into jars, filled the jars with my syrup mixture, and popped them into the pot of water that finally decided to boil.
Wal-lah....canned peaches!!

Shew! I actually think I will try to can more organic peaches while they are still in season. The process will go much smoother now that I know what I'm doing. Things that I will do different next time:

1. Hand matter how long it takes.
2. Start boiling the water early.
3. Pack the peaches tighter in the can.
4. Drink more.

Cheers!! And thanks for reading my first Fight Back Friday post!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I don't even know why I have a blog these days....I have no time to keep it updated. Guess I'll just keep posting pics since they are "worth a thousand words" and I have nothing to say!

So here are some pics from our latest visit with my brother and his gang. It's always so fun to have all the kids together!
I don't know about you.....but looks like a bunch of trouble makers to me. Especially the little one! ;)