Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Canning Wrap Up 2017

My garden did not do well this year, but I still managed to get some canning done.  Mostly because our apple tree was loaded this year, but also because neighbors shared green beans and blueberries, and my mom gave me a bunch of fresh corn. So the year was not a loss by any means.  Here is a picture of my canned goods in the basement (I have a few things in my upstairs pantry as well). 

While a few things are left from last year (not listed in my inventory below - 2016 had its own inventory list), much of the jars in my picture are current.  Here are the things I canned in 2017:
16 pints Boston baked beans
14 pints butternut squash
10 quarts, 1 pint chili
18 pints green beans
8 1/2 half pints blueberry jam
8 pints corn
38 1/2 pints apple butter
14 quarts apple pie filling
52 pints applesauce
6 quarts black bean soup
6 pints crushed tomatoes
8 quarts chicken and veggie soup
30 half pints of autumn olive jelly
I'd love to can more black bean soup at some point.  We will miss not having home canned salsa or pickles this winter, but hopefully next year will be a better one for gardening.
Readers, what's your favorite home canned food?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Twins are 8

Last month, the Cort and Reid turned 8.  Some of you have been reading about them on this blog since they were four months old!  Most of the time, they get along well (like in this picture, they were listening to some music together).  It's Cort and Pierce that do all the arguing in our house.

Cort and Reid are often up to some sort of antics.  Here, they were banished outside because of the brass instruments that they truly cannot play.  This is my uncle's old trumpet and Paul's old saxophone.  Instruments of torture for this mom's ears!

The week after they turned 8, it was back to school.  The only thing Cort requested for his birthday was blue hair.  So we made that happen.  He loved it, and couple of weeks later he was back to normal. 

Cort and Reid are in 3rd grade this year.  Pierce is in 5th.  I can't believe we'll have a middle schooler next year!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Camping at Holliday Lake State Park

Before the boys returned to school, we took a four day camping trip at Holliday Lake State Park.  I ran an ultramarathon there years ago, and always thought it would be a nice place to camp.  The day we arrived, the entire place was empty except for one RV (by the weekend it was almost completely full).  So we got the pick of the tent spots - #14 (which was good because some of them are right on top of each other). 

The boys rode bikes around the camping loop while Paul and I got things set up.  We successfully figured out how to hook up the tent garage with the rainfly, so we were pleased that we weren't total idiots this time (unlike our garage setting up FAIL at Fairystone). 

The lake was exceptionally clean, and no one woke up during the night sick with stomach pain and vomiting this time around.  More success!

The boys can't get enough swimming during the summer months.  It's one of their favorite activities. I enjoyed running the trails in my spare time (and Paul biked them).

On Friday we took a side trip to get in some history at Appomattox Courthouse.  It's only fifteen minutes away.  Here are the boys in the jail.  They were suitably impressed by the big chain bolt in the floor and walls.

The little village was simple and quaint.  There were people in period dress telling stories throughout.

The picture below is the backside of the McLean house (brick).  The parlor inside is where Lee and Grant met to end the Civil War.  The guides were excellent and I think the boys were able to realize what a monumental moment this was in history.

We walked all over Appomattox Courthouse.  So many interesting things to see!  But eventually, we headed back to our camp.

At Holliday Lake, we attended five ranger programs.  The rangers were so knowledgeable and the boys adored their programs.  Below, the boys are learning how to build fire by a number of different methods.

Another day, we attended a critters of the lake class, and the boys caught water scorpions and minnows and other tiny lake life critters by net.
We had such a great time!  Now, we can't wait to go again.  Hopefully we can try a camping trip sometime this fall. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Kayaking Down the James River

This summer when the boys were at camp for a week, Paul and I did a kayaking trip down the James River one day.  Paul dropped me and the kayak off around Horseshoe Bend in Buchanan, then drove to Twin River Outfitters, where they gave him a ride back.

The trip covered what you see on the map, plus some, for about nine total miles of paddling.  Most of the rapids were class 1, but there were some class 2 rapids about 15 minutes in.  Luckily, the guy at Twin River told us to take the rapids all the way to the left.  We did so and were fine (the people just after us ended up capsizing when they didn't move far enough to the left to go over the ledge). 

It was a beautiful day for kayaking.  We saw lots of fish in the river and birds.  Often, the railroad tracks ran right by the river.
Paul and I would much rather go do some outdoor adventure than go out to eat or to the movies.  We've always loved to be out in nature.

I had strained a shoulder the day before the trip doing some major garden weeding, and I was worried about how it would hold up.  But it performed fine.  I did lots of stretching throughout to keep it loose. 

At our final destination, you could see a swinging bridge.  This bridge has been there for many years.  Paul and I decided to walk over to check it out once we got the gear loaded up.

 It's a little creepy.  I cannot imagine people riding horses over this thing.  It really did swing when we were crossing it.  But I guess back in the day people did ride horses and mules across, and paid a 5 cent toll to do so.  The original was built pre-Civil War, and burned by the Confederates in an attempt to prevent the Federal troops from crossing.  So it's been rebuilt a couple of times (there was also a flood that washed it out at one point).
It was interesting to cross.  I can't imagine I would ever convince my horse Francie to do so though! 
It was nice to get a day to get out without the boys.  We missed them tons, but we sure had fun without them for a few days.