How I wash a woven wrap

I happen to only own cotton wraps (for now!) so the process is pretty easy for me. Be aware, however, that different fibers require different care and washing/drying methods.

Today I wrapped my Girasol Avalon Diamond Weave size 5 woven wrap. I’ve been practicing a ton lately with Atticus and he gets an m&ms as a treat when he cooperates. He’s been doing really well…. But there’ve been a few times when I’ve ended up with chocolate in my hair and on the wrap. It’s been in need of a good washing!

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Washing
I threw the wrap into the washing machine on a gentle cycle with a small linen bag of soap nuts. Soap nuts are a natural way to wash things and I love them. I washed the Avalon solo because I don’t want it to get twisted up with anything else.

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After it was finished washing I let it set for a few minutes to let any leftover water drip off, then I checked it over to make sure all the grime came out and to check for any pulls or loose threads. All clear!

Drying
Here you have some options… I like to use the drying process as a way to beat my wraps into submission, plus I’m impatient, so I toss the wrap in the dryer on a low-heat cycle. I add my three Woolzies dryer balls to help break the wrap in. These natural wool dryer balls work as a fabric softener and also speed up the drying time.

Cotton things can shrink, though… So if you’re concerned you can also hang dry your wrap. The best option is, of course, using an outdoor clothes line… the sun makes it smell wonderful and frankly if you have access to a clothes line you should just always take advantage of it (we aren’t allowed them in my neighborhood, can ya tell I’m bitter?). If it’s rainy, cold, or you just don’t have an outdoor clothes line, you can also hang the wrap to dry in your shower or in your laundry room. Use hangers to loop the wrap accordion- style (see below) and just leave it be for awhile.

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And you’re done! Now it’s time to snuggle, hammock, or wrap with your woven 🙂

More Info
A few things…
•Be careful with your wrap and always check for pulls, loose threads, etc. before washing, between washing and drying, and after drying
•Do NOT use fabric softener or other scented washing accessories
•If you’re washing a ringsling wrap a sock or something around the rings when drying
•If you’re just wanting to break in your wrap there are other options, so don’t feel limited to washing
•If you’re not sure or insecure about washing, ask! Post on a forum or Facebook group or check the following resources:
Paxbaby washing instructions
Babywearing 102 washing and care

Beer money! Or: ways to earn money on the internet and on your phone

We all love extra spending money, and have our various ways of making it. Nate and I both love our jobs, but we keep a tight budget. One of my contributions to our family is my passion for finding small ways to earn extra money for spending or saving. Okay, maybe it’s not beer money for everyone. For me it’s Starbucks and woven wrap (My first Didymos Indio, here I come!) money, because let’s be real: beer money is built into my budget.

So here are some of the apps and websites I use. Please note that asterisked items use my referral link 😉

Swagbucks*
Swagbucks is a website that gives you points (called… you guessed it: Swagbucks) that you can redeem for things such Amazon, Starbucks, and Paypal gift cards.

What I like:

  • Tons of ways to earn points
  • Huge selection of rewards
  • Well known and established

What I don’t like:

  • Some points opportunities come with spam if you aren’t careful

I downloaded two free apps that help me earn points (SBTV and Entertainow), and there are a few more apps available for download if you have an android device (which I don’t). Basically I turn these video apps on while I’m using my wireless at home and let the points rack up. Swagbucks sets daily goals for how many points you can try to earn, and when you reach the goal you’re rewarded with more points (on the 5th of the following month). There is a great guide on Reddit written by /u/Garwald that can help you maximize how many swagbucks you earn. In the 6 weeks I’ve been using Swagbucks consistently I have earned $50 in Paypal, and within the next week I will have another $25.

The Ride
The Ride is a super-easy passive way to get some freebies. As you travel via car, foot, bike, plane you earn points that you can redeem for rewards such as gift cards.

What I like:

  • It’s passive; I don’t have to do anything

What I don’t like:

  • It can take awhile to earn points
  • not much to choose from in terms of rewards
  • Only available for apple devices

While I don’t know exactly how many points in getting per mile I also don’t really care. I literally installed this app and then forgot about it. A few months later I redeemed for a Starbucks gift card. I haven’t seen Starbucks as a redemption offer lately, but Dunkin Donuts is one choice, as are Amazon cards among a few other options. I drive about 30 miles each day to and from work so I do earn points fairly easily, but obviously this might not be as useful to a stay-at-home parent. I will be flying to Monterey in two months and I can’t wait to see my points increase after that.

Recyclebank website and app
Recyclebank lets you do activities like watching brief animations, taking shirt quizzes, and reading articles in exchange for points. You can redeem the points for coupons, discounts, gift cards, and magazine subscriptions.

What I like:

  • It’s teaching you something while you earn points
  • It’s easy to earn points

What I don’t like:

  • You can send email referrals or invite people via Facebook, but there’s no set referral link

The activities on recyclebank are quick and easy to do, and it kinda makes me feel good to do them. I’ve actually learned a lot from watching the short (like 30 second) videos and by doing the quizzes. If you have children it’s fun and worthwhile to get them involved, too. You can also put in ziplock codes for points, which is cool. We’ve become more energy-conscious and have a large receptacle for aluminum recycling. I’ve enjoyed some Starbucks as a reward 🙂

Ibotta*
Ibotta gives you cash back when you purchase things at stores that appear in the app.

What I like:

  • You just get direct, good old money (via Paypal)
  • It’s easy to do
  • You can use it as much or as little as you want

What I don’t like:

  • It takes some planning, like couponing
  • There are a few steps involved each time you get a rebate

Ibotta is a mobile app that lets you select items you plan to buy, do a small activity (like read a fact, watch a short video, etc) and then scan the item once you purchase it and submit a photo of the receipt. The app lets you choose groceries and merchandise from stores like CVS and Kroger, dishes from restaurants like Chili’s, and you can even get rebates for movies you go to. I’ve made a total of $42 since I’ve begun using the app. The problem I have is that I don’t think to use it, but I have plenty of friends who use it frequently and get money back every time they shop.

Viggle*
Viggle is a mobile app that let’s you checkin to TV shows or songs for points. You can redeem the points for things like Redbox rentals, music downloads, k-cups, electronics, etc.

What I like:

  • Easy to use
  • Large rewards catalog
  • You can use it as much or as little as you want

What I don’t like:

  • Easy to forget about
  • some of the rewards are for like, 3,000,000 points and it’s like… yeah right

To use Viggle you just hit the “check-in” button while watching TV or listening to music. Your device’s microphone will ‘listen’ for about 30 seconds, then you’ll verify that it picked up the right show or song. You get 1 point per minute of TV (not counting bonuses for things like NFL games or season premieres), or 25 points per song, with a limit of 20 songs per day. As you use the app your “Fandom” level will increase giving you access to discounted rewards.

Mango Health
Mango Health is a mobile app that let’s you keep track of your prescription medications while earning points for taking them correctly.

What I like:

  • Different from other rewards apps
  • Extremely helpful and useful
  • Easy to use
  • Mostly passive
  • Nice prizes

What I don’t like:

  • Points level you up but otherwise aren’t redeemable

Mango Health is super useful and helpful. You enter in the medications you’re on and it reminds you when it’s time to take them and when you’re due for a refill. It also give you information about the medicine including possible reactions between the medications you take. The points you earn level you up but aren’t redeemable. However, as you level up you are eligible to be randomly drawn for higher level prizes. I’ve been using the app for just over 3 months and I’ve won twice: once I won a $1 ASPCA donation, and once I won a $25 Starbucks card. I’m currently at level 6 which makes me eligible to win $50 prizes. I never forget to take my medicine anymore, and the refill reminders are super nice.

Shopkick*
Shopkick is a mobile app that lets you checkin to stores and scan barcodes to earn points (called “kicks”) that are redeemable for all kinda of gift cards and electronics… or even a cruise (uh-huh).

What I like:

  • No purchases necessary
  • Nice prizes

What I don’t like:

  • The app was revamped awhile back and became harder to use
  • If you don’t use the app or redeem your kicks for like 6 months you’ll lose them

Shopkick is mostly easy to use (though not as easy as it used to be). Basically you open the app when you walk I to stores that are associated with Shopkick, and it credits you with points. Also, you can scan items in the store (like groceries or toothpaste) for more kicks. The kicks are redeemable for Starbucks cards, movie tickets, etc. I used it frequently for awhile and my husband and I had a nice movie date. I don’t use it much anymore, honestly, because I just plain forgot about it.

So, what apps or websites do you use to earn extra money? Everyone loves findings out ways to earn money on the internet or using apps, so please share your ideas here, I know I’d love to hear it.

How to freeze green beans

The beans are ripe for the picking, and starting last week there’s about a xerox box or two full of beans ready to pick.

The green beans we grow are heirloom green beans. My dad and I love to try different heirloom vegetables in the garden (we’ve done about 25-30 heirloom tomato varieties!) and green beans are one we’ve had lots of success with each year. He planted a few varieties at my grandma’s house, and one row he built up to be almost 8 feet high. The vibes grow up and up and up so it’s a real space-saver. The tops of the vines have tons of beans, too.

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In my opinion the green beans are best straight off the vine raw, that’s not really easy for me to do with all of them. Mary and I like to pickle them, we’ve dehydrated them, and I like to cook them in the crockpot, but perhaps the most versatile thing to do with them is to freeze them to use all year long.

While the process for freezing the beans is by no means difficult, it unfortunately isn’t as easy as just throwing them in the freezer. Freezing beans is a 6 step process, and luckily each step takes only a short amount of time.

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You’ll need…
A bunch of green beans. A sauce pot. Salt (kosher is better). A colander or two. A few big bowls for ice baths and temporarily storing the beans. Ice. Freezer bags. A straw.

1. Wash. This is easy. Just rinse the beans in cool water, being careful to rub off any cobwebs or dirt.
2. Pop and Pinch. Pinch of the stems, being mindful to leave as much of the bean intact as possible. You can also pop the bean into 1-2 inch pieces, though some people like to leave their beans whole.
3. Boil. Fill a sauce pot with water and add a generous amount of salt, about 1-2 tablespoons per quart of water. The beans won’t be in the water long enough to absorb too much of the flavor but what is absorbed will aid in preserving the flavor and nutrients. Once the water is boiling add your beans and let them boil for 2 minutes. The beans should turn bright green and should taste cooked but should still be quite firm. Do NOT overlook them.
4. Ice Bath. Drain the beans and immediately dump them into an ice bath, stirring gently with a wooden spoon or your hands to ensure that they cool quickly.
5. Drain and Dry. Once the beans are completely cooled drain the water and pat the beans dry with a paper towel.
6. Bag. Once the beans are dry you can portion them into freezer bags. I usually do a mix of gallon-sized and sandwich-sized bags, and occasionally a few snack-sized bags. Lay the bags flat and sort of shake them so the beans are all flat and spread evenly. Of course you don’t want to fill the bags too full. I zip the bags almost all the way closed then stick a straw in the end and suck the air out. While still sucking, pull the straw out and quickly zip the rest of the bag. This isn’t the best way to get all the air out but it does keep the bags flatter and easier to store.

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Zucchini spaghetti lasagna casserole thingy

We seriously need to go to the grocery store, but Nate and I are both holding out. Luckily we have plenty of produce in the garden ripe for the picking. When Nate took off to take Nick back to his mom’s house I decided to buck up and try to cook something stead of relying on Chef Boyardee or pizza rolls.

While we aren’t overwhelmed with zucchini we do seem to have some that are read for harvesting at perfectly timed intervals. Check out this puppy!

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So tonight I found some frozen ground beef and started browning it. While it was browning I sliced some zucchini in very thing strips using a pampered chef slicer thingy. I layered the zucchini slices on the bottom of the pan, then sprinkled kosher salt and pepper on it and brushed some Italian seasoned oil on it.

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When the meat was done browning I drained it, then dumped it in a bowl and mixed it with chopped onion, some minced garlic, Italian seasoning, an almost full jar of spaghetti sauce, a small can of tomato paste, and… I think that’s it. I spread half the meat mixture, then topped with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Also Mexican cheese because I wanted a ton of cheese and that’s all I had. I added another layer of thinly sliced zukes, then the rest of the meat mixture and more cheese. Last I poured a little more Italian oil on the top because it’s so delicious. That didn’t make much sense, though, I know.

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I baked it uncovered at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, until the cheese was brown and bubbly.

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So good! The only thing I wish I’d had was either less beef and more spaghetti sauce, or ricotta, so it could either be more spaghetti-like or more lasagna-like. I’m not sure whether this is zucchini lasagna or zucchini spaghetti. I guess it’s both!

Ramblings from a good terrible mom

I am the best bad parent. Because I admit it. I’m currently lounging outside my toddlers bedroom door after putting him down for bed, listening to my 4 year old play xbox downstairs while I’m up here mostly naked, poking around in my phone. What kind of mom would admit that? Me.

I just nursed Atticus until he was sleepy, then lay (lie? laid? layed?) him down. He whined a little, so I posted myself outside his bedroom to make sure he is ok with me not being there. Because I love him, and don’t want to make bedtime hard for him. Trent is downstairs but within clear hearing distance, playing a kid-friendly game (Disney Infinity) for a little bit before bedtime. He’s talking to the characters and also about me. I bet if someone walked in here it would look like I’m pretty lazy… and I sure am, but I’m also a pro at balancing pleasing my kids and giving myself a little post-work break.

I had a conversation with two currently-childless friends recently. They talked about not being sure about their desires to have kids, and I sympathized. I was there once. Then I had some, and I can’t imagine my life without them. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Surprisingly, they both told me I’ve influenced them positively in their consideration. I was baffled… I see myself as a hot mess. I’m always behind at work, I cry a lot, one of my kids is a nervous wreck like me, I spoil my kids, my house is a mess, I’m unhealthy, and I can’t keep up with housework or finances.

But I love my kids. And my friends pointed out to me that priorities are different and don’t make you a bad person, and that enjoying my kids and being myself makes me a good parent.

My house might be messy, but it’s filled with memories of good times, my lovable husband, kids and dogs, and the things we all enjoy together. I might have crap all over the place, but I’m too busy making memories with my kids to notice most of the time. I would love a clean house, but I would be really sorry if I missed a good photo opportunity of my kids because I took too long cleaning the background behind them first.

I might sit around lazily on my couch sometimes between work and bedtime, but I’d be a nutcase if I didn’t do it a little. For example, today after work I played with my kids in the children’s area at the library. Afterwards we went to Starbucks for some refreshments (for them too, I promise) and I surprised Trent by letting him pick out a new Disney Infinity character. When we got home I took care of some things, then put Atticus to bed, and am currently taking a quick break before heading down to interact with Trent. I feel guilty that I’m not always 100% present, but what parent is? My time with him in just a few minutes is going to be quality, like my nursing and cuddling time was with Atticus. I refuse to let me desire to have some alone time make me impatient or short with my kids. So I’ll help myself to both alone time and quality kid time.

I once read a blog post about two words the writer said they would never again say to their kids. “Hurry up.” It talked about how kids stop and enjoy the little things, and maybe we shouldn’t be in such a rush through our lives all the time; maybe we can take a cue from children. When I’m running late for work sometimes and trying to get the kids to daycare before I head in for a busy day, I’ve found myself telling Trent “hurry up, I don’t have all morning,” while urging him into his car seat. But I try to take a step back. He pokes along the stepping stones in the yard, pointing out interesting rocks or squatting to pick a a dandelion for me. Instead of hurrying him along I try to chill. It means I’m late to work (all the time, really a lot), but I love the little extra moments we have, and he’s teaching me to be more patient. Just the other day he picked a white, fluffy dandelion. I told him to make a wish and blow the feathery seeds away. He thought for a second and said “I wish I had one thousand mommies.” At first I was a little sad at the potential competition, and I asked him after the seeds had scattered if he wanted lots of different mommies. He said no, lots of me. It’s awesome to know how much he loves me, and hopefully it means I’m doing something right.

To know that I’ve made some people more strongly consider having kids is one of the most flattering things I’ve ever heard.

Now, excuse me, but I have some Disney Infinity to play with my son.

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Two pickle recipes plus canning instructions

I’ve been asked a few times for the pickle recipe Mary and I use. Let me make it clear first that Mary is the Pickle Master, not me. I’m like the jester… Just there for jokes. Just kidding. I’m kind of her sidekick. I just do what she tells me. I’m good at following directions, but not organizing the task and managing time. She okayed me sharing the recipe we typically use. And I’ll also share the ones we tried yesterday, for pickle sticks and fridge pickles.

The first recipe goes into the most detail, in case you’re not too familiar with canning. The first recipe is also the on Mary has been using for a few years and most people love these pickles. We’ve done pickled cucumbers, green beans, peppers… you name it. The other recipes we only tried yesterday and haven’t tasted the pickles after they’ve sat but dang they smelled good and the brine was delicious.

Mary’s Famous Pickles
These pickles are dill flavored and quite garlicky with a tad bit of spice. Not a lot of spice, because even my mom loves them. So will you.

Ingredients:
4 cups water
4 cups white vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 cup pickling salt
2 to 3 garlic cloves pealed (per jar)
3 or 4 onion chunks (per jar)
3 small sprigs of fresh dill -OR- 1 teaspoon dried dill (per jar)
~1/2 teaspoon mustard seed (per jar)
~1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (per jar)
~1/2 teaspoon pickle crisp -OR- 1 grape leaf (per jar)

Wash jars, lids, and rings and then boil or steam 4-6 quart jars I your water bath or steam canner for 10 minutes. While your jars are sanitizing, combine vinegar, water, and pickling salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Once jars are sanitized, put the remaining ingredients in each jar. Note that nearly everything is approximate; if you love garlic or onion, add more. Pack the jars tightly with cucumber spears or chips.

Once the brine has boiled ten minutes, use a funnel in the mouth of the jar and pour the brine into each jar until it’s about 1/2 inch from the top. Use a chopstick or something similar to gently like down into each jar to release air bubbles. Then use a clean, wet cloth to wipe the rim of the jar. Place a clean kid on top, then screw a ring on until it’s what I call finger-tight; not too tight.

Put all the packed and lidded/ringed jars in your steam or water bath canner, and process for 15 minutes. Once they’re finished, lift them out and let them cool on the counter. You’ll know it’s a success when you hear the telltale pops of the kids sealing. Let the jars store at least 2 weeks before you go HAM on them.

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Pickle Sticks
While I haven’t yet tasted the finished, processed pickles from this I did drink 3/4 of a cup of the brine It’s so delicious, and I think these are going to be awesome. The brine tastes kind of nutty and almost cinnamon-y sweet, sort of like bread and butter pickles.

Ingredients:
9 cups sugar
5 1/2 cups white vinegar
4 cups water
8 tablespoons pickling salt
4 tablespoons celery seed
4 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 tablespoon mustard seed

Sanitize 8 pint jars. While that’s happening, combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Let the mixture boil for about 5 minutes. Pack the jars while your mixture is boiling.

Once the mixture has boiled about 5 minutes, use a funnel to pour the brine over the pickles in the jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Clean the rims, then lid them. Let them process for 10-15 minutes.

We also made fridge pickles and relish yesterday, but I’ll wait to share those until we taste the product. Do you have a favorite pickle recipe? Please share it with me! We always like to try new things.

Zucchini overload = awesome easy lunch

We need to grocery shop, bad… I’m running out of easy stuff to bring for lunch. But while looking over the garden last night I noticed a lone zucchini. Lunch for today was easy peasy… Zucchini pizza!

I brought my small stoneware bar pan from pampered chef, which I use all the time for everything… In fact I may as well buy another. I also brought a snack sized Baggie of shredded cheese, a small cup of spaghetti sauce, and of course a small-medium sized zuke.

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First I preheated the oven at work to 400 degrees. While it heated up I sliced the zucchini in half long-ways. Then, I spread the pizza sauce on and sprinkled on the cheese. Sometimes I add oregano, garlic, sliced tomato, basil, mushrooms, or pepperoni, but I was in a hurry and feeling kinda plain when I got my lunch ready last night.

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I let the zucchini pizzas bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese was bubbly and somewhat burnt on the pan.

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Then my website went down, I received a text from my husband that my child is puking, and our credit card machine stopped working. This is my job and my life. Technology hates me.

Luckily I have awesome coworkers and while I was tethered to my computer my pal Kate brought me my half on a plate, complete with plastic ware and a napkin. So nice. While I would have loved taking an actual lunch break, at least I got to enjoy the deliciousness.

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Pickling day! Plus a little about my Mary

That’s right! Between my own garden, my grandma’s and my parents’ it’s time to start pickling cucumbers. My friend Mary taught me how to pickle a few years ago, probably with the intent of teaching me so I’ll go out on my own.

But I won’t go out on my own. I puppy dog her, and it won’t stop anytime soon. OK, MARY??!

I’ll say all this before the pickling because otherwise she won’t read it and neither will you because it’s not nearly as exciting as the pickling. Well it is to me, but maybe not to you.

Mary and I met at work. She’s a librarian, I’m a librarian. While I was in school for my masters she gave me advice on projects. When we got smooshed together in the information services department and stuck on the desk 10% of our working hours we meshed really well. We didn’t really have a choice… So we realized how alike we are in weird quirky ways (like watching shitty reality tv, eating, reading the quirky stuff, etc.) and we just clicked. Or maybe I [desperately] didn’t give her a chance not to be my friend. My best friend. Is this creepy yet?

Anyway, yesterday we pickled cucumbers and garlic. So good! I have 5 or 6 pickling cucumber plants, and my parents and grandma have a few, too. I harvested a nice sized box of cucumbers and a few onions from our gardens and set out to Mary’s house.

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We started by washing the cucumbers and onions, then we stuck the boys with the slicing job. Both Nate and Steve work in the food industry so they’re always good helpers :-). They cut the cucumbers longways and sometimes in half if they were big, scraping the mushy seedy part out on the bigger spears. They took some of the skinnier cucumbers and sliced them chip-style so we’d be able to make both types of pickles.

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While Nate and Steve chopped Mary and I washed jars, found kids and rings to match, the set the jars in the steam canner to boil. We also started boiling the brine, a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water.

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Mary also bought a big bag of peeled garlic which we planned to pickle. This stuff is like crack! The guys chopped the woody ends off and we had the cucumber chunks, chips, and garlic in separate bowls, plus a smaller bowl with a little bit of garlic and the onion slivers.

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Once the jars and brine were boiling we got started adding the spices to the jars. We put some dill (fresh is always best, but we only had fried this time), mustard seed, red pepper flakes, and pickling salt, then we add some chopped onion and a few garlic cloves (although we forgot that part on our first batch this time). We’ve added grape leaves in the past to keep the pickles crunchy, but this time I think we used something called pickle crisp along with the seasonings.

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Next we packed the jars with the sliced cucumbers. This part can be surprisingly tricky; it’s like a puzzle. You want to use slices that fit well with each other so that they’re packed tight. When the jars get nearly full we break chunks off and top them off. Next, we poured the brine in to about half an inch from the top of the jar.

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After the jars are packed we wiped the rims with a clean cloth, the. Set the lid on top and put a ring on, just finger tight. We put the jars onto the rack of the steam canner, then put the lid on and let it boil for about 15 minutes.

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Once the steam canner has boiled at least 15 minutes we pop her open and gently lift the jars out, letting them rest, cool, and *pop* on a kitchen towel on the counter.

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And onto the next batch….

This weekend Mary and I did two batches of pickles (spears and chips), and one batch of pickled garlic. Yum! Our results look amazing… And I can’t wait to eat them. But not so fast! They need to sit and get really pickly, at least 4-6 weeks if I remember correctly.

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I always have such a good time and learn so much when I pickle with Mary. When I’m going through it Mary is always there. When I think I’m going through it but really I’m just being sensitive or over analytic Mary shakes me sane. She’s a good no-nonsense friend, but don’t let the no-nonsense fool you, she’s one who actually cares. At work when we have to talk on the phone I often quickly and loudly tell her I love her before she can hang up, for three reasons: (1) because it makes her laugh awkwardly, (2) it makes others around either of us laugh too, and (3) because I mean it.

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A day in my garden with my boys

I almost didn’t take Friday off work as I had planned, but I did… And I’m so glad! It was a great day.

I got to sleep in a decent amount, until 9:30ish, then Atticus and I went downstairs and I did some (very little, to be honest) cleaning, which included finding a 4 oz. jar in the kitchen sink drain that I could not remove on my own…

Atticus and I went out to water the garden while Trent was still asleep. I’m so happy with how it’s growing! It seems like each summer in this house I’ve had some issue that makes the garden just fail. Pregnancy slowed me down two years, drought another, using the wrong weed killer before planting another… But this is our year so far!

I was pretty ambitious this year, but it’s because I’m determined to get some harvest! I planted about 16 heirloom tomato plants, 16 varying pepper plants (sweet, green, hot), corn, celery, cabbage, zucchini, cucumber, and several herbs. I also have potatoes, onions, rhubarb (brand new, so no harvest this year), and a few other things.

I noticed one of the mystery heirloom tomato plants (my dad often has volunteers that are strayed between several different plants, so we just wait and see what they end up being… I love it!) has some baby tomatoes on it! I’m crossing my fingers that this is either rowdy red or the grape-sized orange variety.

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I also noticed the two heirloom paste tomato plants (the only tomatoes I didn’t get from my dad) have something happening!

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I like to go around every few days and pinch the tomato crotches. Well, that’s what I call it. My mom says my granddad called it suckering the tomatoes. I’ve just always done it because my family has always done it, not sure why. If I had to guess I think it probably helps focus the nutrition in the growing plant on the blossoms instead of in worthless extra growth.

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Atticus likes to watch, mostly, but sometimes help.

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As I was looking things over Friday I noticed a giant hiding under some leaves…

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I took it to the hose to rinse off but Atticus didn’t want to wait…

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I’m hoping to have a bunch more by this next weekend for a possible pickle party. But I had to try out this guy both fresh and with some yummy vinegar.

I chopped the cucumber up as well as a small onion from the garden and threw both into a Tupperware container.

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I splashed in 2 parts red wine vinegar (I was out of apple cider vinegar) and 3 parts water, then added a small palm-full (maybe a tablespoon?) of kosher salt, and a few pinches (maybe 1/2-1 teaspoon?) of sugar, plus a shake of garlic powder. I ate some of them later that night and they are amazing!! Tried more today, two days later, and they’re so tart and a little sweet. Delish!

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Late afternoon/early evening both boys had some splash-time. They love hanging in the yard!

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Confrontation & Being an Introvert

I am an introvert.

I’m not the life of the party, I hate being the center of attention, and I won’t be the first to initiate a conversation, if I can help it.

But if I’m at a party, you better believe I’ll have a good time. Possibly too good of a time. I want to make sure everyone else has fun, too. While I don’t want attention focused on me I do want recognition… doesn’t everyone? If you want to talk to me, just do it; I’ll listen until you have no words left, and then I’ll talk until the cows come home.

Have an issue? *cringe* I hate confrontation. If I have a reaction I’ll probably go to a friend and sulk about it and whine, a lot longer than a normal person would. But I typically don’t address things… or at least I didn’t used to. I’ve made great strides in the last year or so in working toward being a better person, a calmer person, but I’m not perfect.

Things used to bother me all the time. And what made it worse was that I never addressed things with people unless I couldn’t handle it… and if that was the case, watch out. It was like popping a cork, and I would go ballistic on people with no warning. That wasn’t fair, and it was exhausting. I have to say that while confronting someone is still an exhausting task for me I’m working on it and I think I’m getting better at it. I’m trying to become a happier, more productive person.

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That’s it, really.