Saturday, April 26, 2014


by Robin

Today begins the first day of a new adventure.  My youngest and I are volunteering at a Thoroughbred Race Horse rehab center.  (Actually name withheld for privacy reasons.) We are so excited and our work actually begins on Monday.

We met these two characters at orientation class this morning.  There were so many more, but I needed to stay focused, listen and have my hands available to hand out carrots.  LOL

 photo 2014-04-25222416Nala.jpg

This will be such a tough gig, loving on horses!!

 photo 2014-04-25222359Leader.jpg

The owner of the center says that it is not us who rescues them, but mostly them who rescue us.  I have a feeling my head will be filled with sounds of soft whinnies and  heart is going to be covered in horse slobber.

Have a blessed summer!!  Now, you know what we're doing when we're not at the beach or pool.


by Robin

I'd better write this down before I forget how to do it next time.  Excuse me if I use my blog as my recipe book.  LOL.

Nearly ever week, I have a shelf just full of red tomatoes and have to find something to do with them.  The first week, I made salsa.  Then, I made sun-dried tomatoes.  Last week, I made sauce and it was ok but I forgot to take the skins off of it, so it wasn't stellar but more like a learning curve.  Everything is still edible but I'm new to having a surplus of tomatoes.

This week, I think I have about perfected my recipe for canning homemade sauce.  This batch, seen below, had a LOT of Ugly Ripes and Campari tomatoes in it.  A big overflowing bowl of them.

We popped the skins off with a couple minutes of boiling, followed by an ice bath.  Then, we had a peeling party.  Nothing like insisting the kids know where their food comes from.  So, from there, I would just mash them down but noticed I wasn't getting a good consistence, so I sent them to the blender for finer blending.

Notice, I did not try to remove the seeds.  Store products do not have a lot of seeds, but I think that would be near impossible to do with homemade sauce, especially since these are not paste tomatoes.

 photo 2014-04-24032732HomemadeSauce.jpg

Ok, so everybody in the pool.   Blended tomatoes, garlic powder, onion powder, 1 bay leaf, black pepper and about 4 Tblsp of lemon juice.  Boil and boil some more.  Get most the liquid gone.  The more you boil, the more it will resemble paste.   I probably could have boiled mine more, but I like-a da sauce.

From here, you put them into sterilized jars.  I filled up 2 pints this week.  Last week, I did 1 quart, so at least I'm consistent in knowing that 1 window sill's worth  equals approx a quart.  ha ha.

Now, we boil them in a water bath for a serious 30 min (pints) or 40 min (quarts). The contents will begin boiling again.  Then, set them on a towel to cool overnight.  You should hear them suction down.

Now, you have a couple more jars for the winter (if they make it that long!).  I'm thankful to at least be doing something productive with them besides letting them rot in the drawer.

Today, my job is to figure out how to preserve 5 foot-long yellow squashes.  I was so disappointed in January when I learned my original seed was no longer for sale.  But, that has long faded since these are much more productive!! Wow.  They practically grow over an inch every night.



by Robin

We had a very special guest visiting down our way this week.  Poppa Jack.  Growing up in Florida, he has many friends and family still down here.

 photo 2014-04-24083254CurryMen.jpg

We were so blessed to have some time with him.  Jack got to see his Dad twice because I was still running kids around the first day he came into town.

After we ate, we signed this canvas "guestbook" as a way of telling our soon-to-be-graduate CONGRATULATIONS!!  Even Poppa signed it, but he magically disappeared for the photo.

 photo 2014-04-24082931CurrySigning.jpg

Have a blessed weekend.

 Hug a family member and let them know you love them.


Thursday, April 24, 2014


by Robin

This has got to be the best year for big tomatoes ever.  It's crazy.  They just keep coming and coming.   I've made salsa, sun-dried tomatoes, spaghetti sauce and soon, gonna try making paste.

 photo 2014-04-19001319SundriedToms.jpg

 Here are about 20 pictures with not much order or explanation. Seems like I should be doing other things more productive with my time besides blogging.  Tis the busy season.

 photo 2014-04-23235536Window.jpg
 photo 2014-04-23224659toms.jpg

Potato dirt - The leaves were rotted, so I thought I would dump it.  It had a premature death and so we didn't get many.
 photo 2014-04-23235132RedPotDirt.jpg

Egg harvest

 photo 2014-04-24003605DirtyEggs.jpg

Garden 1 - this garden looks a mess but something very important is going on here.  My broccoli are seeding out, we are attracting bees and then my things that need bees are getting pollinated.

 photo 2014-04-23222412Garden1.jpg

Drying seeds - After the broccoli heads bloom (yellow), then you get these seed pods.  They're EVERYWHERE!   But, you can see some are going brown and need to be pulled before they drop their seed.
 photo 2014-04-24003129DryingSeeds.jpg

Bees - there are 2 on this broccoli bloom.  We lured them in a couple months ago by letting these plants seed out.

 photo 2014-04-24003501BroccoliBees.jpg

Acorn Squash - now the bees are finding the cucumbers and squash.  I have 2 acorn squash.  Here's one.

 photo 2014-04-24003355AcornSquash2.jpg

Here's another one

 photo 2014-04-24003223AcornSquash.jpg

Beets - I don't have many of these, but I wanted to experiment with juicing some and maybe pickling.

 photo 2014-04-24003322Beets.jpg

Herbs & Eaton.   These are mostly parsley and a variety of basils, sage...

 photo 2014-04-23235047Herbs.jpg

Red Leaf Lettuce & mixture

 photo 2014-04-23235016Lettuce.jpg

Today's Lettuce Bowl - Even though I'm not getting tons and tons of lettuce, it is doing better than any other lettuce I have put in the ground.  I am enjoying my vertical container garden. Lulu, our bunny, is too.

 photo 2014-04-23235509LettuceBowl.jpg

Cilantro in front and Swiss Chard in the middle.  Sweet basil is just out of the picture.  I have more of that in the big gardens too.  And we have fresh dill.

 photo 2014-04-23235058Cilantro.jpg

Garden 2 Frontside:   You can see some onions that were transplanted after the chickens destroyed the container they were in.  Okra is about knee-high.  Radishes have a couple more weeks and they're ready.  Hopefully, you can recognize the out-of-control tomatoes & yellow squash.  Cucumbers are in the back.  Inside trellis has some beans for drying.

 photo 2014-04-23222250Garden2.jpg

Garden 2 Back - same garden, backside.  Those are zucchini in the bottom right.  Only male blooms which is disappointing.

 photo 2014-04-23222347BackGarden2.jpg


 photo 2014-04-23222925Cukes.jpg

It's hard to tell because it looks like an overgrown mess but here are the Okra, Bell Peppers and Radish rows.
 photo 2014-04-23222442OkraPeppersRadish.jpg

Yellow squash - the females have the little yellow bodies. I am hand pollinating these with a Q-tip because the bees aren't coming here for whatever reason. The top-left bloom is a girl. The bottom-right is a boy. See the difference in size? Of course, there is also the yellow fruit that helps differentiate too.

   photo 2014-04-23222726Squash.jpg

Today's harvest, minus a few squash I picked yesterday. See how pitiful my red potatoes grew?  I hope my other container is doing a much better job.  They're still going strong.  I've also bagged and given away 3 bags of cherry tomatoes.  Those do not do well for canning, but they freeze well.

 photo 2014-04-23225504HarvestToday.jpg

So there you see the bulk of my garden.  I'm still very much an amateur hobbyist but we do this to eat chemical and wax-free vegetables.

Friday, April 11, 2014


by Robin

I know my Senior was too embarrassed to pose for this picture but I worked very hard for the past 14 yrs to get him to this point.

I don't expect him to understand all the levels of commitment it took to get here, but maybe, someday he will.

 photo 2014-04-10220837CapTassle.jpg

I cannot believe that we've less than a month to the end of finals and then a week of preparations for the ceremony.  I've had various jobs in our home schooling association, but my main job was to organize the finger foods & cake for graduation day.  I'm so extremely excited to see how that will turn out.  We have a nice large budget because our group of 12 families have done an excellent job fundraising & yard sale-ing to raise the money.  We have our home church as the venue.  The high school science teacher is our guest speaker.  My good friend is our photographer.  A former home schooler is our videographer and put together a special video to roll as each one walks the aisle.  He recorded our voices speaking words of love, affirmation, Scripture and wisdom as pictures of them play on the screen.

I'm excited and proud of our level of dedication all year to pull off this miracle without one single cross word with each other.  The moms have been blessing to me and to each other through this process.  It is amazing what the unity of Christ can accomplish.


Monday, April 7, 2014


by Robin

We're adding a new color this week to our diet.  :)  Homegrown squash is back on the menu.

 photo 2014-04-07Harvest.jpg

And we be having some fresh fish for dinner too. We were blessed to fish the Gulf of Mexico this past weekend and waves were favorable for a long offshore run. Came home with 5 nice red grouper and a bunch of reef fish.

   photo 2014-04-06020807Reds.jpg

Hope you're feeling as blessed as I am,