Saturday, October 18, 2008

I'm No Green Thumb... But I CANCAN


As all of you know who read my posts, I planted a garden of tomatoes, cherry peppers, cayenne peppers, jalapeno peppers, green beans, cucumbers, and red and green Bel peppers. I was hoping to show off my green thumb and domestic skills... but pride comes before a fall. However, don't be too disappointed in me yet. Although I didn't master the art and knowledge of gardening, I did learn to can.

I will say this: before I learned "the art" of canning, I blanched some of my green beans and put them in the freezer and every time we eat them they are wonderful. Aside from that, I probably had 4 edible summer squashes that came from 3 squash plants total. They were awful. The seeds were as big as pumpkin seeds. I also worried and fretted, watered and weeded, over my Bel peppers and tomatoes all summer who failed to produce any fruit. I finally gave up around early September and stopped fussing over them PERIOD. Who would have thought that dehydrated tomato and Bel pepper plants could produce so well? Then there's my cayenne's... I don't even want to talk about them. I have 3 cayenne plants of whose fruit I have done absolutely NOTHING with. They need to be pruned or cut down; they have overtaken my garden, Yes, I had good intentions... I was going to make homemade salsa using them. I was going to dry them and grind them up to use for cooking later. But have I done that? HA! The only positive thing they've done this summer is added a beautiful red splash of color 3 places in my otherwise greenish-brown garden. I won't be planting them next year. Now there's the beloved jalapenos (sigh). I love these little peppers. I have used them all summer to make tacos, spaghetti, fajitas, to add in a steak marinade, poppers with cream cheese and much more. There is no limit with what you can do with them. And guess what? They are still producing like crazy. I'm loving it. (In case the economy completely crashes, I won't have to buy jalapenos and cayenne's... or tomatoes and Bel peppers at this point).

As I stated before that pride comes before a fall, I hate to admit this but my tomatoes never really put out like I had hoped they would. Even now, although they are producing I still don't have enough except to put on a salad every day or so. I had 7 plants and 3 decided early on they were going to check out. So there went my canned tomatoes and salsa... or so I thought. I happened to be mentioning it to Sis.Angela Miller, a dear sweet lady at our church that my "tomato hopes" had been crushed and wouldn't be able to can the goodies I had intended. She didn't hesitate to tell me that she had access to an individual who could get us boxes of tomatoes for $8 whereas they were selling locally from between $12-$20. She also told me she cans tomatoes and everything else all the time and she would love to get together and do some tomato canning. Since I hadn't had any lessons in canning, I gladly welcomed the suggestion and company. We planned the party. The day arrived and Sis.Angela, her daughter Whitney, her son Colton (Noah's age), Sis.Bridget and myself had a blast at my house canning 4 boxes of tomatoes. So after much laughter, learning, tomato skins and stains all over my stove, kitchen floor, and our clothes, we put up 22 12oz. jars and 3 pint jars of salsa; and 12 quarts of canned tomatoes apiece. So although I may not know what I'm doing in the garden yet, I do know how to can thanks to these two instructors: Instructor Miller and Instructor Koehoorn.

Rebekah came by later on her way to a youth activity.

Here's the finished product.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A little bit of heaven on earth... and a BIG HAIRCUT

Stories, laughter, memories, songs around the bonfire, sandcastles at the beach, family, friends, good food, good church, shopping, San Diego... and I quote, "It just doesn't get any better than this" (Paul Bertram). We had the distinct privilege and honor of reliving some old memories and making some new ones while visiting in Lakeside (San Diego), CA.

First let me say, I can never say enough about this family... set aside the fact that they are kin. These are genuine Christians. They don't just read the Word and watch out for themselves alone, but they have a huge burden as big as the sky for others. My cousin Paul is an incredible Pastor (in blue). I got to watch his devotion and commitment to God for the year Jeremy and I lived there. He was early to the church every day to pray. The fruit of that commitment is evident in the saints at Faith Mountain. They are some of the most dedicated, passionate, and committed Christians you will ever meet. We were so blessed to learn and grow with them that year.

In addition, his wife is also a Godly beautiful woman with strong conviction. She is a miner. She goes digging for things in people who don't know what they have yet. She did this for me. She pushed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to play the piano and sing after Jeremy would preach. This frightened me to death because I only knew a few altar call songs that I was coordinated enough to sing and play at the same time. At our Ladies Prayer meetings, she began putting me on the schedule and having me teach every other week. I began studying and digging into God's Word like I never had before. She is an awesome woman. Now as we revisited the church I saw others she's mined something precious out of and I became so overwhelmed with emotion. For you Bri... you too Amanda... Christina... don't close up the mine... always keep it open. She is always the same. She is a nurturer in the truest sense of the word. She took care of me when I left my "home" for the first time. I called her my 2nd Mom. She fills every bit of that definition. "Her children rise up and call her blessed." I bless you today "Mom."

Also, their biological children, Johnny, David, and Chantal, are some of the best examples of Godly young people you'll ever find. When we lived there, I remember going into the church in the middle of the day and Johnny would be bent over the altar praying and seeking God (I am upset I didn't get a picture of him. I'll have to steal one from his mom's blog) . He is transparent and pure through and through. I also remember Chantal and David in youth prayer meetings, and Chantal specifically one time right before we moved, as she prayed with power and conviction. Her praying that night lead the group into another level of intercessory prayer(the beautiful blonde). God used her in a mighty way. Then my heart was bursting within me again this trip when I walked into the house one day and heard that familiar beautiful sound of praying coming out of David's room. These young people know who they are... they are HIS. And it is obvious that's all that matters. Oh how beautiful and refreshing it was to see this.

It wasn't all serious... we had some down to earth times like when I beat everyone in Big Boggle haha (we won't discuss those other two games); or I got to go to my fave Mexican restaurant: Rodeo's; or when Paul and my Dad came in from Walmart looking like two escapees from the asylum (loved the cap's green light attachment) and Chantal says, "You went to the store like that?"; or the day at the beach building a sand castle and trying to keep Noah from eating too much sand (ahhhh); or getting to teach the youth choir again; getting to see and be with all my old Faith Mountain friends; or spending too much money shopping (my excuse is that its for a good cause... our upcoming Harvest Festival)... on and on I can go.

Yes, you read right, I did mention my Dad earlier. My Mom and Dad also got to come down for the week we were here. I was so glad too. I couldn't have picked a better set of parents than these two. They helped me through a very traumatic experience while we were in SD... the BIG FIRST HAIRCUT. Yes, we finally did it. I wanted it to be special so Lorraine helped me find a salon that was not only kid friendly but they also had a special first haircut package. Noah got to sit in a sports car with Winnie the Pooh. The saved his hair and put it on a cute certificate. Well things started out okay with the cool sports car and as his hair "began" to be cut. After this strange lady started playing with his hair, he started freaking out. I ended up sitting in a chair with him in my lap because things got ugly really fast. Noah was not considering forgiving this lady for cutting his precious hair. So, we just decided to go for a trim and maybe wait a little longer for the BIG BOY styling haircut. All in all we enjoyed a little bit of heaven in SD... revisiting memories and definitely making new ones.
Hair Before:
Hair After:
More pictures:

Mom and BriSis.Hoffer and meSis.Casias and meMe, Noah, and CynthiaMe and Bri