Monday, December 29, 2014

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!

From the S Family...


So I know I'm a little behind.  My annual Christmas cards are becoming New Year's cards and most will probably get this in a email. Pray you all had a great Christmas and will have a good New Year's.
We had a good holiday season starting with spending Thanksgiving in Tulsa with my mom, grandma, sister and niece.  Sugar bug had the great idea to get us all footie pj's.

We realized later that Super D and I should have sat apart we kinda blend together. But I love that everyone was game and joined in on this picture.  And these PJ's are comfy and warm great for movie night with the family! 

We enjoyed dinner with extended family and I got this picture of Sassafras and our niece. Before the camera died as I forgot to charge the battery. 

  We had a great Thanksgiving and wonderful visit seeing everyone!  On to Christmas...

Does this picture not just say Christmas?  I snapped this on a quiet night after the kids were in bed the dogs just looked so content and I loved the the glow of the lights and fire.  Reminded me of the Amy Grant song I Need a Silent Night.  
We spent Christmas at home this year. Super D cooked prime rib and a turkey while I made all the other good stuff. We had Super D's side of the family over and some friends.  

Super D got a neat tool set....

Best part was he picked it himself. He took me into Sears one day and handed me the screwdrivers and picked up the box and told me " Just don't tell me what your getting me."  LOL!  I just laughed and paid for it.  Hey saved me wrapping paper.  I just stuck it under the tree.

Here's Sugar Bug still waking up Christmas morning.  Didn't take us long to open up our presents This year most of the gifts we too big to go under the tree.  Sassafras now has her drivers license and we gave her the jeep.  She is super excited!  Sugar bug got to travel to California to visit my sister by herself and that was her gift.  

I think one of the best gifts I got was meeting our new nephew! 

This little guy was born on the 21st.  He's just 4 days old here.  We loved getting to meet him. Congrats to Super D's  little sister and her guy! 

Wishing you all a great New Year!  I'm looking forward to it!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Pumpkin...

So one item that did well in the garden this year was pumpkin.  I harvested probably close to 50 pumpkins from one sprawling plant!  (thankfully I only had one plant to contend with)  Now these weren't your Jack-o-lantern type but smaller pie pumpkins.  So here's the low down on how to can pumpkin. Oh and I did learn I was using my canner wrong in this post where I Failed canning poke.  So the secret in case anyone else needs to know is that you let the canner get to a boil and when you see steady steam coming from the vent you then put on the weights.  I wasn't doing this as I was using it like a pressure cooker and starting with the weights on and waiting for it to rattle and time it.  Well, when you do that it sucks the liquid out of your jars... So on to my success....

Canning pumpkin...option one

Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds. (keep for roasted seeds!) Then cut in to chunks, they don't have to be to small and put into a big pot. (see background)  
 I just kept going until my pot was full.  Cover pumpkin with water and bring to a boil.  Cook until fork tender.  About as long as it take potatoes to cook.  

Here's the time consuming part peel, scrape, or any other way take skin off pumpkin.  Spoon pumpkin chunks out of water as you want to save the cooking water.  

Put chunks of pumpkin into canning jars.  After much research it is strongly suggested that for home canning of pumpkin you that you do not smash it.  Pureed pumpkin is hard (nearly impossible) to get hot enough to safely can at home so according to all I read you should can it in chunks.  It is easy to puree when you use it. 

Now fill the jar with cooking liquid. Remember to leave an 1" head space.  Put on lid and put in canner.

My canner has a line for where the water level should be which is only about a 3rd way up.  Then turn on the heat to high and wait! When you see a steady stream of steam coming from the vent let vent for 10 mins. then put on the weight as seen above. :)  Process (meaning cook) pints size jars for 55 mins and quarts for 90 mins.  At 10 lbs pressure.  For my canner that meant one ring.  (check your manual) 
And Viola...

Canning Pumpkin...option two

Option two is you can skip cooking the pumpkin first and peel the raw pumpkin pack in to jars and cover with boiling water and process the same.  This cooks pumpkin in the canner while canning but I will warn you they both take the same amount of time as peeling or cutting the skin off raw pumpkin is not easy.  As far as I can tell so far both yield pretty much the same result. 

Good luck

Happy Thanksgiving everyone... This makes really great pumpkin pie! or anything else you use pumpkin in.

Have a happy and safe holiday! 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Worms and Pirates...

Well, I hope you had a good Halloween if you celebrate.  As my family knows Halloween is not my favorite holiday.  For years we didn't hardly give it a passing nod but the kids got older and wanted to do more things changed a bit. Anyways, this year we were invited to a Halloween Bunco Bash.  It included a costume contest and creepy dish contest.  Well we had a good time and the costumes and food turned out great...

For the creepy yet edible dish I made a dirt cake with very real looking worms...

For the worms I used this recipe for Jello worms. I used the whole package of Knox Gelatin that's all 4 envelopes and it turned out great.   For the cake I used this recipe for Dirt cake Of course I used my jello worms instead of gummy worms. 
This dish grossed out my girls so much they barely tried it then said it didn't taste good but it was all in their head!  Everyone else loved it...

The brave party goers ate it up!

For our costumes Super D and I went as Pirates and the Sassafras was a Zebra and Sugar Bug Red Riding hood.  (Mostly it was an excuse for the girls to wear make up and dress up!)

We managed to get this decent picture with the timer on the camera right before we left.
But some of the best pictures were at the party.

Love the new addition!  They had a pet parrot and she actually flew over to me and climbed up on my shoulder! 

Our poor friend had a hole shot in her! But what an ingenious idea.

Sugar bug had a little competition with red riding hood.  But what a great couples costume.

We got all of us in front of the graveyard backdrop. And got Sassafras to put her hood up for this one.

Sugar bug and her silly faces!

My parrot friend even came with me to oblige a few more pictures. 

The nigh went great and my favorite was the wolf by the end of the night had a good representation of all our great costumes....

Thank you to our hosts for a great night.  Bunco (which is a dice game) was a lot of fun.  Especially since I won some good prizes.. :)  Hope to do it again next year!
Someone put a lot of planning and time into this and I am thankful we were included in the fun. 


Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Sassafras had a good but somewhat quiet birthday.  On her special day we started out getting up at the crack of dawn (which is quite a feat for my girls) to go to town and meet Super D for breakfast.

See the sun isn't even fully up! But we had a good breakfast before Super D came home to sleep.

Then we made cake and had a family dinner with one of her friends over.
 She requested a Panda cake...

 We played games and watched a little TV.  But the big event was on the weekend we drove to
Springfield to go ice skating.

We got to eat pizza with Aunt M who hung around to take pictures for us.  Being due with a nephew for us in December she wasn't skating.

 Sugar Bug claimed ice skating is not her thing! She did really well though. 

 Here's the four of us on the ice. We had a great time and finished our day with ice cream at the mall. 
Happy Birthday Sassafras.  I am so proud of the woman you have become.  You are an amazing gal who shines bright everyday! Keep standing tall like the sunflower.
(enjoy the pictures but this techy challenged mama could not figure out why it is putting my typing on the side of the pictures!  Just as when I want to do that I can't do it! Go figure.. Sorry)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Ok so time as gone into hyper drive again and left me in the dust.  Somehow a whole month has gone by since I posted anything.  I've had a couple ideas and thoughts but just been busy.  So what's been happening?
Well, besides Super D and I working opposite schedules which makes life crazy.  (He's working nights so he's headed to work when I get home)  Somehow we've managed to fit in a quick trip to Branson. I've canned pumpkin, green beans, and jalapenos from the garden. (the only things that did well this year.) Super D got a crazy infection that I will spare you pictures of as it was bad!! Seeing doctor, two different antibiotics bad! Then we welcomed October in with a the big 16 for Sassafras...
So after all the healing and running a month has passed without me noticing.
Ok to the good stuff... Pictures...
 Go Karts!! Please for give the fuzziness as I took this from my Go Kart that was super slow.  I got the defective one. 

 And my favorite... Bumper Cars!

 And last we did putt putt golf.  It was a great day and the next day we got some shopping in.

Next post Birthday for Sassafras...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Meet Athena

Isn't she cute??  This is our new farm dog.  She is a Great Pyrenees/ Anatolian mix.  At nine weeks she was the same size as our two Miniature Schnauzers.   She's great at standing guard and doesn't chase and kill our chickens.  We are hoping she will guard our chickens and keep the predators way.

I mean awwww. Look at the sweet face.  She is a sweetie too! 

I just feel for her as she is a fluff  ball and this last week our weather hit super summer temps.  We've been in the 90's - 100's for a week or two.  It is burning up everything in our neck of the woods.  So if you have any rain send it our way please! 

Couldn't help one more picture!  Just want to hug her don't you!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

NOOOOOO! Come Back Please!!

I am not ready for August!! Can someone tell me what happened to June and July??  We've had a busy summer working hard and trying to take advantage of all the moments we can to play.  So here is a recap of the fun stuff...
June means a Birthday for Sugar Bug and as usual she wanted to spend it at the river.

This year we did go to a new location.  Sugar bug wanted a bridge to jump off of.  As seen above. 
We had a blast and just as we all were about ready to leave it started to storm which cooled it off perfectly for hotdogs and cake at home.  We were all excited to have Grammy be able to visit us twice this summer.  The first time being for Sugar bug's birthday.
We managed to get this family picture while out showing Grammy the Ozarks.

Then in July my sister and baby niece got to visit.  We had fun showing off the area and playing.
 Which means a trip to Dawt mill for ice cream and to play in the water a little...

In July we put on out own fireworks show and had a blast.  But I was so busy enjoying it all I didn't get any good pictures. We managed to go on several float trips too.  As August is here we are in the mist of planning school for the next year and will be starting to harvest and put up stuff from the garden.  Despite my failures I haven't given up on canning yet.  I'll try to get an update on all the garden goods soon..  Hope you all had a good summer!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Third times a charm right? Not.

   I attempted twice now to pick and can poke.  I know I've mentioned poke on here before...
Lands Bounty is from when we first learned of how to eat and prepare poke.  DO YOUR RESEARCH! Never eat poke raw and NEVER eat the ROOT!
Poke aka Poke Salat is a southern dish that has been enjoyed for years.  Depending on who you talk to they all prepare it a little different.  After much of my own reading and research this is how we eat it. 

First, Pick a lot! It cooks down a lot like spinach and if you plan to can it you will need three times as much as you need.   Go to above link for pictures of the plant.  I pick them smaller leaves and when they are young is best but I continue to pick smaller leaves from large plants too. 
If we are just going to eat it I wash then boil it.  About 10 to 15 min.  Then pour off the water.  Many recommend that you boil it twice or even three times.  Do your research and decide.  After the first boil it tastes best sautéed in some butter or bacon grease.
My attempt of canning poke did not go well.  After picking and washing a ton of poke I loaded it all into the biggest pot I had full of boiling water to cook..
After it cooked down I used my pasta fork there to move it to my next biggest pot of boiling water.  I put it though a very short second boil and packed it into jars.  I didn't worry about water from the second boil getting into my jars.  The first boil is what boils out all the toxins in poke.
I packed my jars full of poke added 1/2 teaspoon salt and put into my pressure canner.  Here's where everything went wrong. When my jars came out of the pressure canner they had no liquid left in them.  So I figured it was the canner.  I had issues getting it to the right pressure.  I tested my canner and it seemed to work fine so I tried again.  And again failed...
So after two days wasted I gave up on getting any poke canned this year.  I will try again next year. 
So still in denial that my canner was at fault I attempted to can some green beans and again did not get good results.  Seemed to suck the liquid out of my jars. So I think my canner needs new seals as it doesn't want to get to pressure very quickly.  I will not be using it until I get new seals for it.  Hopefully soon.  So this all gets chalked up to Live and Learn.  :) 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

There's a Buzz in the Air.

Where has the time gone?! I can't believe it is June already.  Our laid back pace has gotten hectic lately.  Super D got a new job and our schedules are not very together right now.  But life marches on and we are keeping up at the moment

  A few weeks ago I went out with the girls to pick poke and while we were at the other trailer I heard this loud buzzing.  I looked up to see where it was coming from and walked around the trailer and the garden area was filled with bees in the air.  It was honestly a little creepy.  I yelled at the girls to get in the car and we closed all the doors.  While there we watched a cloud of bees flying in the garden area. At first I didn't know what to think.  There were enough of them I didn't really want to walk through them! So I drove through the woods a bit to check our hive.  I thought maybe it was knocked over and our bees were lost of something.  But our drive showed it was intact and busy with bees in and out.  So I drove back around and the bees were gone. ???? 

So I ventured out of the car to investigate.  I could still hear the buzzing a bit and low and behold we had just witnessed bees swarming.  I know many call a bunch a bees a swarm but really bees only swarm when they are looking for a new home.  When a hive gets too big and out grows it's home the bees make a new queen who then takes half of the hive with her to find a new home.  We were witnessing this.  The bees hadn't left they had just settled down for a rest with the queen.

Is that not cool?! So I got our empty hive box out and put under the bees. I wanted to catch the swarm.  If you get the queen in a suitable home they will stay with her there and set up house.  I attempted to knock these bees out of the tree several times but was not successful.  Swarming bees don't really look to sting anything as they aren't guarding a home.  They are just following the queen and I've been told you can put your hand in a swarm of bees and not get stung.   I was not brave enough to try but was amazed at how close I could get with them really not paying any attention to me.  I had a bee or two run into me but not sting me while I was trying to get them.  Anyways, I failed and decided to wait for Super D to get off work to help me.  I hoped I had tired them out enough that they would stay put long enough for us to get back. 

They did.  With Super D we managed to get them into a hive box.

 Super D helped and was tall enough to cut the branch they were on so they would drop into the box.
At least most of them were in the box.

Really we needed to have the queen in the box.  If she stayed they would all stay.  But finding the queen in all those bees is not something we are good at. 
We left the bees to settle in and came back a couple hours later and every bee was on the out side of the hive box. We had missed getting the queen in the box.  So we moved it and tried again.  We really shook up those poor bees trying to catch them and in the end I was stung twice and Super D three times.  
We finally had almost all the bees in the box and were confident we had the queen.  So we left them for the next day to let them settle in.  I went back a day later and I guess they didn't like that home because they were gone.  Not a single bee left.  So we gained some good experience and learned a bit. But didn't end up with a new hive.  I'm sure some expert could tell us what we did wrong and what to do next time. I have my own ideas too.  Seeing a swarm like that was a really neat event that was cool to catch.  Had we not gone over that day we would have never seen that swarm.  I am disappointed we weren't able to catch it.  
     Just another adventure for the S Family in the Ozarks.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Sassafras Tea

Nothing says summer like Sassafras Tea.

This is a Sassafras sapling.  Sassafras is a type of tree, not just my oldest daughters alter ego, it used to be used commonly for tea and making root beer.  The roots of the tree smell a bit like root beer.  I have more pictures here from a post I did our first year. The Lands Bounty
Like with anything you pick from the wild be sure of what you are getting.  Don't use my site alone to identify and do your research.  Sassafras does contain a chemical that the FDA determined was dangerous which is why root beer is no longer made with Sassafras. I talk about it more on The Lands Bounty post.

Okay on to tea...Girls and I picked a bit of the leaves for our tea.  I just get a good handful and tear them up a bit and put them in a pot with water and heat.

I bring the water to a boil then turn off the heat.  Let it steep for a bit.

We like this tea cold so I stain and pour over ice.  I usually pour while it is still hot so that it dilutes is a bit. 

This batch was very green but I can come out a more yellow color too.  We decided the tea smells like fruit loops.  We usually sweeten it just a bit.  It has a very light, sweet, vanilla like flavor.