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Friday, July 31, 2015

The Puppies Are On Their Way

Tim and I will be heading to Nashville today to pick up Ace and Lily from the airport.  Ace and Lily are my daughter Jenny's dogs.  Jenny, Nate and Rory will be moving back to the Mainland in a couple of weeks and to make their move easier we volunteered to take Ace and Lily for them.  We were suppose to pick them up last week but due to the high temperatures they were not allowed to fly.  They took off from Honolulu, HI last night around 5:40 pm (11:40 pm our time) and they arrive in Nashville at 10:30 am central time.  It has been four years since Shadow has seen Ace and Lily but I am sure they will all get along.  There is lots of room to run around here.  It will be a little tight in the RV have three good size dogs but it will all work out.  When we agreed to take the dogs was before Roxie came to live at the farm so I hopes she will get along with Ace and Lily too.  I guess you can say, for a little while, the farm will be going to the dogs!  

Thursday, July 30, 2015

We Have Lights!

The new fence already got an upgrade.  Tim added outdoor solar lights to each of the fence posts.  It looks great!  He did some work on the lights themselves by shortening the light shaft then he drilled a hole on the top of each fence post and secured the shorten shaft of the light.  He then mounted the light into the shaft and the post was completed.  I took a day and night picture to see the difference.  During the day the lights are not really noticeable but at night it give just enough light to see the fence and borders the driveway nicely.  He also sunk the lights that on are both sides of our steps leading up to the deck.  It makes it easier to see the steps especially at night if the outside lights are not on.  Tim also put our address on the fence so when coming up Quail Way a person knows whose place is whose.  George added an address to his fence leading into his driveway too.  Like our mail boxes our address plates match and look very nice.  Nice job Tim!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Christmas In July And Dinner

Last week my sister Pam surprised me with a couple of presents that I like to call Christmas in July.  Pam spoiled my by sending me a Rice Cooker and Steamer and a Bluetooth speaker.  Something that I have wanted and would eventually of gotten for myself.  It was a wonderful surprise especially since they were two items I really wanted.  We used the Bluetooth and synced it with the DISH Hopper and listened to SIRRUS outside while eating dinner with George and Lisa  a couple of nights ago.  It was nice to have music with dinner.
Last night I got to use my rice cooker.  About a month ago our neighbors Reg and Cheryl invited us to their house for a BBQ and we have wanted to reciprocate and we finally did.  I made my Cheesy Chicken crockpot meal that is served over rice.  I wanted to use sticky rice, aka glutenous rice aka about 12 other names, but finding it in eastern Tennessee is tough.  I decided to use sushi rice instead and I cooked it in the rice cooker.  It turned out great.  We held the dinner at Lisa and George's because they have more room.  I made my family's "orange goo dip" and Lisa made some incredible cucumber cups, (recipe for both in a later blog) for appetizers.  We then had the cheesy chicken over rice served with green beans from the garden, creamy cucumber salad and bread.  All were delicious. Cheryl had brought gooey brownies for dessert.  Dinner was a great success and we all had a nice evening together.  Thanks George and Lisa and Reg and Cheryl for a nice evening; we will do it again very soon!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Just Routine Now!

Yup, making pickles is just routine now.  It really is not hard and really doesn't take too long.  Lisa and I have a whole routine now and we can pretty much make both dill pickles and bread and butter pickles in about three hours.  Yesterday was proof of that.  We went shopping in the morning in Greeneville, TN.  The downtown area in Greenville is really neat and very historical.  I have visited the Andrew Johnson Historical Site but most of downtown Greeneville has several historical areas that I could probably make an entire day just walking the downtown area and taking in all the sights.  Once it cools down a bit I will plan a day in Greeneville.  Meanwhile, back at the farm, after spending the morning in Greeneville shopping we got back to the farm just around noon and had lunch.  Then around 1:00 pm Lisa and I got busy with more pickle making.  Tim and George were working on an electrical outlet in the kitchen so we did have to "work" around them.  Lisa finished making grape juice, a sugar free juice this time, and I cut up the first cantaloupe from the garden.  It was delicious.  We had picked five of them the other day and they had finally ripened enough to eat.  Wow, I have never had such a fresh one.  We then started pickling.  We decided to make some more dill pickles but decided to do to the refrigerator dills, they do not have to be processed.  The difference between dill and bread and butter pickles is the vinegar, sugar and salt.  Dill pickles are made with apple cider vinegar, salt, dill seed and garlic where bread and butter pickles are made with white vinegar, sugar and pickling spices.  The dill pickles are cucumbers cut into spears and the bread and butter are slices.  We cut the cucumbers for the bread and butter pickles with a special tool that makes the cucumber slice wavy.  Like I said it is pretty much a routine now to make pickles and it only took three hours to make a half gallon of grape juice and over 24 pints of pickles.  We still have quite a few cucumbers to use up but we have plans for those today.  We are trying something new; cucumber cups!  Curious?  So are we!  Check back and see what they are.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Day In The Crafty Cottage

We all started our day down in the orchard picking more cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, okra and a green pepper.  I did pick a couple of carrots to see how far along they were and they still need time.
Lisa picked a lot more cucumbers and tomatoes so I know we will be doing some pickling.  After we finished down in the orchard I got to spend the rest of the day in the Crafty Cottage.  It has been a few weeks since I had a chance to spend all day in the Crafty Cottage and so it felt good to be in it.   I was able to figure out my August CCC card.  The August card is pretty cool because I learned a new technique and then used it for my August card.  It took all day to work on and finish the cards but at least that task is done and I will be now have more time available to continue the canning and also start a new project for the farm that I cannot say what it is yet but it should be a cool feature when it is complete.  So it was a good day, a productive day but a good day!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Productive Day At The Farm

After having a play day on Friday, Saturday was a productive day at the farm.  Tim and George spent the morning down in the Orchard taking down more walls from the raised beds that were built a few years ago and they finished the last section of the fence along our driveway.  It looks great!  Meanwhile, Lisa and I spent the day canning.  We started out working on the tomatoes.  This time we made Salsa and a couple of quarts of tomatoes.  Then we moved to pickles.  There were over 50 cucumbers so we decided to make a double batch of bread and butter pickles. We used over 30 cucumbers and ended up making 12 pints and quarts of bread and butter pickles.  Lisa also made her creamy cucumber salad which was delicious.  She made a double batch so I could have some leftovers.  We grilled pork chops and fresh green beans together and had a nice evening sitting out on the deck, enjoying a good meal and a great view with good friends. 
This morning we are going down to the orchard and see how much more we will be canning soon.  We did pick some cantaloupe the other day.  We are just waiting for it to get ripe.  I know they will be good.  Later today we will continue working on the what ever we pick from the orchard.  It is going to be just another day at the farm.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Fun Day Friday

We all had a fun day on Friday.  Everyone has been working hard at the farm all week long so Tim and George decided to go golfing and invited our neighbor Reg to go too.  They started their day early and left for the golf course at 8:00.  Lisa and I decided if the guys could go golfing maybe we would go see a movie.  We love our little local theater.  First run movies only cost $5.00. So since we had to run a couple of errands in Newport we decided to see the new movie "Max".  We invited our neighbor, Cheryl (Reg's wife), to come along.  We had a nice together and the movie was good.  I had made the mistake of reading some reviews on the movie but, as usual, I did not agree with the critics and I thought the movie was good.  If you like dogs, go see this movie.  We did some grilling for dinner and then just relaxed for the evening.  It was a good day for all!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Fences Part Two

We all started in the Orchard early yesterday so we could get the crops picked before the rain began.  It was not as hot down in the orchard but it was still buggy.  After working in the orchard Tim and George used more refurbished wood to build fences along our driveway.  When you pull into our driveway you have to turn towards the left otherwise you may end up going downhill.  After Tim and George completed our fences that is no longer an issue.  Great job Tim and George.
Today is fun day for us all.  Tim and George are heading out to play golf and Lisa and I will be going to a movie in the afternoon.  The weather is suppose to be good so it should be a nice day out on the Golf Course.  As for what movie Lisa and I are seeing; has not been determined yet.  Check back tomorrow and see which movie we chose.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

New Project - Fences Part One

While Lisa and I have been busy canning the crops from the Orchard Tin and George have been busy building fences from refurbished wood that came from the Orchard.  George had some raised beds in the orchard made several years ago but never really used them and decided to take apart the raised beds so that next year a lot of corn can be planted in the area where the beds are now.  (By the way, raccoons ate all the corn that was in the orchard except for one small area.  We picked the corn and ate it the other night.  We should have waited but we were concerned that if we did the raccoons would come back and get that.  At least we had a sampling of the corn).  Tim and George have been working on getting all the wood from the raised beds and have been using it in other projects.  The garage was built with the wood and now fences are being made.  At the top of George and Lisa's driveway is a cud-de-sac that is full of flowers.  Now it has a great fence around which will be serving two purposes.  One is to fence off the flowers and the other is for a future project that I will be involved in a little bit later.  We are also putting a fence along our driveway, just for curb appeal. That will be part two of this new project. Check back and see!
Roxie is doing great.  She spent a night at the vet, she was spayed, but is doing well and is now getting some life in her and showing some personality.  Roxie and Shadow have met and once Roxie is all healed we know they will become the best of friends and will have a great time together here at the farm.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Deck Has Been Upgraded

Tim built our deck last Spring, before we left on our trip out West, but never had a chance to seal it until now.  We had to wait until for a couple of days without rain which has been very tricky since we have been back.  Finally there was a short break in the rain and we had a couple of days without rain where he got the chance to seal the deck.  He chose a sealer with a cedar tint and it looks really nice on the deck.  We also bought an Umbrella for our new table on the deck.  Now we can sit on the deck, at the table, even when the sun is beaming down on us.  The umbrella is a rectangular shape like our table so it makes a lot of great shade.  It is a burnt orange color which helps tie the table and chairs, deck and RV all together.  It is nice to be able to enjoy our deck at any time thanks to Tim and our umbrella that blocks the sun during the day.  Thanks Tim for a job well done!
Today is Lisa's Birthday and I just want to say to her, Happy Birthday!  Lisa is a great friend and being able to share all that we have experienced at the farm together has been so much fun.  She has even made the tough times, Winter, more bearable just being able to experience it together.  Happy Birthday Lisa!  I hope you have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Meet Roxie Hart

On Sunday, while Tim and George were working on an area of the driveway a dog wandered up to them.  The dog was very thin, you could see her ribs.  George and Tim stopped work and took the dog down to George's house to feed the dog.  All he had was cat food but the dog didn't care.  After eating and drinking some water the dog just layed down like she was home.  When Lisa got home they all started working on the dog.  Our neighbor  Cheryl came over to help and after a couple of hours they removed over 100 ticks then gave the dog a bath.  The dog had a collar on but no tags.  They feed her again, this time is was dog food.  She was in heat so they made a bed for her on the back porch and that is where she stayed unless she had to go potty.  She slept there all night long and then Lisa took her to the vet.  They decided that if she was healthy they would keep her.  The good news is she is, just a couple of minor things wrong plus starving.  So, George and Lisa have a new puppy.  They named her Roxie Hart and today she gets fixed at the vet, she is in heat right now.  So in a few days, after Roxie recovers, Shadow will meet Roxie and become friends.  I can just imagine the mischief those two will get into here at the farm.  Keep checking back to see for yourself.  Welcome Roxie Hart Francisco!

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Mystery Of Quail Way

The Mystery Of Quail Way began when our neighbor up the road inquired about one of us running off Quail Way, hitting a small tree then almost going over the edge on the other side of the road.  We knew it was not one of us and it was not our neighbors up the road so that only left three other people who could possibly.  We do have two other neighbors that live off of Quail Way and we are pretty sure it is not the neighbor with the log cabin because he has not been around since we got here.  I am beginning to think he doesn't exist.  Then there are our other neighbors with the free ranged dog.  The dog has no boundries.  He can go where ever he wants and he does.  A couple of times he even enticed Shadow to go with him.  Before we saw the damage that was done to the tree and the tire tracks that got too close the  edge we were thinking that it may have been someone, a stranger, who started up our road and realized it was the wrong road.  However, after looking at the area and knowing a couple of things about the neighbor with the free range dog we decided that it was our free range dog neighbor and that he may have been a bit tipsy when he came it.  The bad thing is we will never know because we are too polite to ask him and we have no proof that it was him.  So the mystery of Quail Way will have to remain just that, a mystery.   Let's just hope no more trees will get hurt; of yeah, people too!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

BYOM With Friends

You may be wondering what BYOM means well last night we had a BBQ and invited our good friends Larry and Linda Vanderwilt.  When we invited them we asked them to BYOM "bring your own meat" and we, Lisa and I, would do the rest.  It is a take off of BYOB, bring your own bottle.  Hey, it works and this way everyone eats what ever kind of meat they want.  So while Tim and I had the Omaha Steaks pork chops, George and Lisa had fish and Larry and Linda had steak.  It worked out really well.  The rest of the dinner involved a lot of items from the garden.  We served fresh cucumbers and tomatoes as an appetizer and in the main meal we had potatoes and fresh green beans, zucchini and squash, a really great cucumber salad and garlic bread.  Larry and Linda also brought fresh sour dough bread and hand churned butter from an Amish market; delicious.  Every thing was and no one left the table hungry.  We were a little concerned about the weather, rain was predicted, but it ended up being a beautiful night so we ate dinner on the patio and enjoyed the mountain views as we ate.  For dessert I made Banana Cream pie which was good but not a great pie to serve when it is warm and humid out.  It looked good until I cut into in and it when to goo but it still tasted good.  We had a great night and we are so glad we had a chance to get together with Larry and Linda before they head down south again.  Thanks Lisa and George and Larry and Linda for a great night!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Making Tomato Sauce

The tomato plants in the orchard are doing really well and Lisa has been busy canning tomatoes for a couple of weeks.  I think she has at least 12 quarts of tomatoes.  The last couple of days that we have gone down to the orchard Lisa has picked big bags of tomatoes which meant more canning.  I am not a fan of the actual tomato but I do like any tomato by product.  With all the tomatoes that were picked it was time for some more canning.  Since I don't care for the tomato myself and I would not know what to do with a jar of tomatoes Lisa and I decided to make tomato sauce.  This way I can use the tomato sauce in my homemade spaghetti sauce.  So we found a canning recipe and it seemed very easy and it was.  We cleaned the tomatoes then put them in a hot water bath then a cold water bath and peeled the skins and cored the tomatoes.  Then we mashed them and put them in a pot.  We had to let the tomatoes cook on a low boil until they reduced about a third of the pot.  That is where we found out this easy canning recipe takes about 5 hours to reduce.  It was worse than watching paint dry because we had to stir the pot during this process.  After the tomatoes finally reduced we put citric acid, salt and sugar in each quart jar then added the now sauce into the jars.  We got 5 1/2 quarts of tomato sauce that will eventually be made into spaghetti sauce.  I will let you know how it tastes when I make the sauce. 
Our next canning endeavor will be another batch of pickles.  Speaking of pickles I posted that the dill pickles were good well the bread and butter pickles were even better.  Last night we tried the grape jelly we made and it turned out really good.  So we are 3 for 3 on our canning adventures.  Let's hope it will continue with the tomato sauce.  I will let you know!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Great Smokey Mountains National Park - Cades Cove

Yesterday we took a day off from the farm and drove to  Great Smokey Mountains National Park which is located about an hour from us.  I have been wanting to visit the Great Smokey Mountains National Park (GSMNP)  since we have moved here but just never found the time to do so.  Well, we finally took the day to do so.  It was the July "Date In The Box".  The Great Smokey Mountains National Park straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smokey Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, that are part of the Appalachian Mountain chain.  The border between Tennessee and North Carolina runs northeast to southwest through the centerline of the park.  GSMNP is the most visited national park in the U.S. The Appalachian Trail that runs from Maine to Georgia also passes through the center of the park.  The park was chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1934 and was officially dedicated by President Franklin D  Roosevelt in 1940.  The park is 522,419 acres making it one of the largest protected areas in the eastern U.S.  The main park entrances are located on U.S. Highway 441 (Newfound Gap Road) at the towns of Gatlinburg, TN and Cherokee, NC.  It is the major tourist attraction in the area and is visited by over 9 million tourists and 11 million non-recreational visitors.  That is twice as many visitors that visit the Grand Canyon, the second most visited national park.  The two main visitor centers are Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg and Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee.  The park has a number of historical attractions.  The most well-preserved of these is Cades Cove,  which is the single most frequented destination in GSMNP.  The others are Roaring Fork, Cataloochee, Elkmont and Oconaluftee.  The park also has several trials, creeks and streams which offer an abundance of outdoor recreational activities.
We visited Cades Cove which is a valley located in the Tennessee section of GSMNP.  The valley was home to numerous settlers before the formation of the national park.  It has well preserved homesteads, scenic mountain views and an abundant display of wildlife. Through out the 18th century the Cherokee used two main trails to cross the Smokies from NC to TN.  By 1797 and earlier the Cherokee had established a settlement (a seasonal hunting camp) in the flats of Cove Creek.  Henry Timberlake, an early explorer in Eastern Tennessee reported that the streams in the area were well stocked by otters but were extinct in the cove by the time the first European settlers arrived.  It was known as "Tsiya'hi" or "Otter Place".  Cades Cove was named after Tsiya'hi leader known as Chief Kade.  The Treaty of Calhoun (1819) ended all the Cherokee claims to the Smokies and Tsiya'hi was abandoned shortly thereafter.  The Cherokee would linger in the surrounding forests and would occasionally attack the settlers that were moving into the area until 1838 when they were removed to the Oklahoma Territory (the Trail of Tears).   John Oliver, a veteran of the War of 1812, and his wife Lucretia Frazier were the first permanent European settlers to Cades Cove in 1818.  They struggled over their first winter subsisting on dried pumpkin given to them by friendly  Cherokees.  In the Spring of 1819 Joshua Jobe, who convinced Oliver and his wife to settled their returned to the area.  He left for the winter but rewarded the Olivers with two milk cows to ease their complaints.  In 1821 William "Fighting Billy" Tipton, a veteran of the American Revolution and son of State Of Franklin opponent John Tipton bought up large tracts of Cades Cove which in turn sold to his sons and relatives which began the boom.  In the 1820s Peter Cable, a farmer of German descent, arrived in the cove and designed an elaborate system of dykes and sluices that helped drain the swampy lands in the western part of the cove.  Between 1820 and 1850 the population of Cades Cove grew to 671. The size of the cove farms averaged between 150 to 300 acres.  Cades Cove was a thriving community until the Civil War where its population was down and did not return until 1900.  Cades Cove residents put up the most resistance for the formation of  the Great Smokey Mountains National Park but were assured their land would not be incorporated into the park but that changed in 1927 when the Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill approving money to buy the land. 
To visit Cades Cove there is an 11 mile one way loop road, with several stops to see the historical buildings and farms.  It is a great way to see what life was like during the 1800s in the Smokies.  The mountain views are amazing but we did not see much wild life during our visit.  In the summer months it can take over 4 hours to drive the 11 mile road due to the visitors and the drive can be bumper to bumper.  It was slow going in spots for us but it was worth the wait.  We will be returning to Cades Cove in the fall to hike some of the trails and to enjoy the area when it will hopefully be a little less crowded.  There is a lot to do at Great Smokey Mountains National Park so we will now be visiting a little more often.  Plan a visit to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.  It is a great place to see and hang out.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

We Made Grape Jelly

Lisa and I made homemade grape jelly using the grapes from the orchard.  It was a two day process but I think it will be worth it.  We started on Tuesday cleaning and de-stemming the grapes, that is not a fun job - yuck!  We then washed the grapes and placed then into a big pot where we smashed all the grapes.  Once we were done smashing the grapes we cooked the grapes then poured the juice into a container and then let it sit over night!
Yesterday we strained the juice using cheese cloth  and then placed the juice it in a pot where we added 7 cups of sugar and stirred it until the sugar dissolved.  Then we brought it to a rolling boil that got a little out of hand and made a bit of a mess all over the store.  Luckily we got it all cleaned up and continued making the jelly.  We added pectin to the boiled juice mixture then skimmed the foam for the top of the mixture.  We read that the foam was the best tasting thing.  After tasting it if the jelly tastes half as good as the foam we are in for some good jelly.  After skimming we poured the mixture into 1/2 pint jars then sealed them.  We made eight 1/2 pint jars of jelly and in a couple of days we will be able to taste it.
Okay so last night we got to taste the Dill Pickles we made on Monday.  All I can say is they were delicious.  We ate one whole jar and opened a second.  Glad we made a view jars so we will be able to enjoy them for a while.  Check back tomorrow and I will give you the update on the Bread and Butter pickles and how they tasted!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bread And Butter Pickles

Like I said in Tuesday's blog I love pickles and so Lisa and I spent most of the afternoon yesterday making Bread and Butter Pickles.  We cut up 10 cucumbers and I used my Pampered Chef crinkle cutter to cut the slices.  Some of the cucumbers were pretty thick so some of the slices are almost hamburger size which will be great for burgers and sandwiches.  This time we followed a recipe from the pickling spices that Lisa purchased.  When we read the instructions it said we would need 50 cucumbers which we did not have then realized that it meant the pickling cucumbers.  So 10 worked out well.  After cutting the cucumbers we made the brine out of vinegar, sugar and the pickling spices.  It called for 7 cups of vinegar and 6 cups of sugar and the spices which I had to stir continuously over a medium heat until the sugar dissolved and it began to boil.  Once the brine was ready we packed the jars with the cucumber slices then poured the brine in the jars.  We fixed four quart jars of pickles and four pint jars of pickles.  After we sealed the pickles Lisa placed them in a pot of boiling water where they cooked from 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size of the jar.  When the boiling was complete the jars were placed on the counter where they will sit for the next 12 to 24 hours.  We are both very anxious to try the Bread and Butter pickles; they looked great.  Tonight we will be opening the refrigerator jar of dill pickles we made Monday.  I can't wait to see how they taste!  Check back tomorrow so see how the dill pickles turned out!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Making Dill Pickles

I love pickles!  Dill, Sweet, Bread and Butter and Relish; I will eat them all!  The cucumbers from the orchard have been great and every time we go down to check the crops there are cucumbers.  It started out slow but recently Lisa was picking more than the both of us could eat so yesterday we decided to try our hand at making dill pickles.  Neither one of us had ever made dill pickles or any type of pickle so we decided to go easy and Lisa found an easy dill pickles recipe on Pinterest.  We went to Newport to buy what we needed and when we got back we got busy making the pickles.
The ingredients were things we mostly had already we just needed more.  We washed all the pint size, wide mouth mason jars and then started cutting up the cucumbers into spears.  After that we added the dill seed and a couple of cloves of garlic (we used minced) into each jar.  Then we took the spears and packed them into the jars.  We made a brine out of vinegar, water and kosher salt and when it came to a rolling boil we poured the brine into the jars.  We cleaned around the rim of the each jar then placed the lids on them.  This recipe called for two different ways to finish the pickles.  We decided to place two jars in the refrigerator and the rest in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes which then, after cooling, they can be stored in a cabinet up to a year.  The refrigerator ones will keep for several weeks in the fridge.  The pickles have to sit for 48 hours before eating them, for better flavor so Wednesday night at dinner we will, hopefully, be enjoying our dill pickles.  Here is the recipe for the Dill Pickles we made:

Dill Pickles
Makes 2 pint jars
1 1/2 pounds of cucumbers
4 garlic cloves or 2 teaspoons of minced garlic
2 teaspoons dill seed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) (we did not use)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons of pickling salt or kosher salt (we used kosher)
Cutting board
2 wide-mouth pint jars with lids
Large pot, if canning
1. Prepare the jars-wash well, you know longer have to sterilize the jars just wash with hot soapy water.
2. Prepare the cucumbers-wash and dry the cucumbers, trim the blossom end of the cucumbers, then cut the cucumber into spears.  Make sure the spears are not too long to fit in the jar.
3. Add spices to each jar: 1 teaspoon of dill seed and two cloves of garlic or 1 teaspoon of minced garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (optional)
4. Pack the pickles into the jars-pack cucumber spears, trim ends if they stand more than 1/2 inch below the top of the jar.  Pack as tightly as you can with out smashing the cucumbers.
5. Bring the pickling brine to a boil- combine the vinegar, water and salt in a sauce pan over high heat and bring to a rolling boil.  Pout the brine over the pickles filling each jar to within 1/2 inch from the top. All the brine may not be used.
6. Remove air bubbles-gently tap the jars against the counter a few times to remove air bubbles. Top with brine is needed.
7. Tighten the lids- place the lids over the jars and screw the rings until tight/
8. Optional - Process the pickles for longer storage:
    For longer storage place the jars in a boiling pot of water. When the water comes back to a boil, set timer for 5 minutes and remove jars immediately after the 5 minutes.  Make sure the lids pop down; if they do not, refrigerate those pickles and eat them first.  
9. Cool and refrigerate- let the jars cool to room temperature:
If the jars were processed they can be placed on a shelf and will keep for at least a year on the shelf and once opened for several weeks in the fridge.
If unprocessed store the jar in the refrigerator.  The pickles will improve with flavor as they age so let them sit for at least 48 hours before opening and eating.  The refrigerator process will last several weeks in the fridge.

Check back on Thursday for an update on the pickles.  Lisa and I will have the official dill pickle tasting Wednesday night at dinner!  Maybe we will grill burgers and hotdogs so we can enjoy our homemade dill pickles on those too!

Monday, July 13, 2015

And The Crops Just Keep On Coming

Yup, this is another blog about harvesting the crops.  Well, it is just another day at the farm.  I am the official blueberry picker and so far I have managed to get blueberries every time we go down to the orchard to check the crops.  The zucchini and yellow squash have slowed down but the tomatoes and cucumbers are sill growing well.  I have been fortunate enough to enjoy a homegrown cucumber every day and all I can say is that they are delicious.  I have sliced and froze the zucchini and yellow squash I was given to use at a later time.  Tim picked some more green beans.  We had some green beans from the garden a couple of days ago and they were probably the best green beans I have ever had.  George and Tim picked a ton of grapes that Lisa is going to use to make grape jelly.  The kiwi are coming along a long with the watermelon, cantaloupe and pumpkins.  There is also one huge butternut squash that if it keeps growing will become a contender for the world's largest butternut squash.  So, it was another successful harvesting and just another day at the farm.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Garage Gets An Attic

Tim and George worked all day putting up rafters in the garage.  It is the first step in creating storage in the garage.  The spent most of the morning putting up the rafters, which were made out of recycled wood.  After lunch they ran into town to get plywood and then finished laying the attic floor in the garage.  It was a warm day but at least they had a roof over their heads.  They finished laying the attic floor just in time for dinner.  Tomorrow they will continue on the rafters over the wood pile section of the attic.  Nice job George and Tim.  Extra storage is always good!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Quizzes On Facebook

If you follow my Travels With Ruth blog then you know that I have already posted about the quizzes on Facebook but since that blog I have found out so much more about myself, through these quizzes, that I just had to share.  The first quiz was what fictional southern woman would I be and it turns out I would be Scarlet O'Hara.  Then I wanted to find out how many times I have been reincarnated and it turns out to be 3,722 times; who knew? The next quiz I took was what color was my personality.  I am orange.  I always wondered where I would be living in 10 years and it appears I will be living in Michigan.  I am a 60's TV show master and I have a PhD; just call me Dr. Ruth!  Oh wait there is already a Dr. Ruth so I guess I you can call me Dr. Loomis!  The final quiz I took was to test my Disney IQ.  My family loves Disney and we need to get our "Disney fix" at least once a year.  So, I was very happy when I scored 100% on the Disney quiz.  I was actually compared to Walt Disney which he and I share the same birthday.  So, it was another fact learning day because if it is on the internet it has to be true, right?  HaHa!

Friday, July 10, 2015

The RV Roof Got A Facial

Tim gave the RV Roof a facial meaning he sealed the roof so it is all nice and tight and ready to withstand another year of rain, snow, acorns, hot sun and anything else Mother Nature may throw at it.  When he reseals the roof it also makes it nice and white again.  He had to wait for a dry day to do this and with all the rain we were having he decided he better do it on the first dry day where the roof was completely dry and was not going to rain for a day.  Well that day finally.  Little by little the RV will be worked on to get ready for another winter.  Now that we have gone through a winter here at the farm, and the second coldest winter in history for Eastern Tennessee, we now know a few things that will help keep the RV warmer for the winter.  Tim has just finished phase one by sealing the roof.  The other phases will be worked on through out the summer and early fall.  Check back and see what phase two is, it will be a big job!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Inside Out

Yesterday was lunch and a movie.  It has been quite aw agile since we have seen a movie so we decided to go see the Disney movie, "Inside Out".  It was very good and cute.  We have been seeing the previews of this movie for several months now.  We went to our local Movie Theater in Newport where they show first run movies and admission is $5.00 a piece.  Not bad, huh?  Before we went to the movie we had lunch at Ruby Tuesday.  I love their salad bar. Lisa and Geirge joined us so we all had a great afternoon together.  If you get a chance to see the movie.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Omaha Steaks!

Every Christmas I see the advertisements for Omaha Steaks that you can order and send as gifts or for yourself.  For $49.99 you can order 2 steaks, 4 burgers, 2 chicken breasts and 4 jumbo franks (just an example).  I know several people who give Omaha Steaks as gifts.  I think my parents did it for my brothers and sister one year but Tim and I have never had anything from Omaha Steaks.  Well that has changed!  Tim goes on a website daily called Lifestyle Rewards.  This started a couple of years ago when our campground membership, Thousand Trails, insisted we attend a sales meeting to get us to buy a "better" membership.  If you have followed my Travels With Ruth blog it was when we were accused of "stealing" from Thousand Trails because we actually used our membership.  We were actually dismissed from the meeting but for our troubles we were given a $500 gift card to Lifestyle Rewards.  That ended up being a pretty good deal because since then we have been able to get a few gifts but just for going on the site daily Tim has won several small gift cards ($5.00 to $25.00) for restaurants or stores.  Well, a couple of weeks ago he won a $50.00 gift card to Omaha Steaks.  After looking at the Omaha Steaks site we found out that the $50.00 gift card would not get us much especially with shipping.  After looking at our options we decided to buy a bigger package and use the gift card and our own money to pay for it.  Well, the Omaha Steaks order has arrived!  We received 4 sirloin steaks, 16 gourmet burgers, 6 pork chops, 4 chicken breasts, 4 Polynesian pork chops and 4 jumbo franks. We figured that was about 14 to 16 meals.  This was a value pack order that we created and used the gift card and about $70.00 of our own money to purchase it.  Well so far we are not too disappointed.  The portions are a little small but certainly doable for dinners.  We had one small shipping mishap when we received our order.  Everything was frozen but the Polynesian pork chops which were cold but not frozen.  We called the company who is sending us a new order of the Polynesian Pork chops.  So far, we have enjoyed the meat and would recommend Omaha Steaks as a gift or for yourself. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Lunch With Friends

Lisa and I had lunch with our friends Larry and Linda Vanderwilt.  Larry and Linda have been featured in this blog a few times.  We are all friends from Florida and when Larry and Linda are at their home here in eastern Tennessee we make sure we get together with them.  I had been quite a while since I had seen them because of our travels so it was good to be together again.  We ate at Monterrey Mexican Restaurant in Newport and it was a new one for me.  It was good and even though it cannot compare to my favorite Mexican restaurant, La Nopalera in the Jacksonville, FL area it was pretty darn close.  The salsa and queso were very good and our food was delicious.  We will be returning again but next time we will make sure that George and Tim come along too.  We had a nice lunch together and got all caught up.  We will be seeing Larry and Linda again soon before they head back down to Florida.  Lisa gave Larry and Linda some of her homegrown zucchini and yellow squash.  We sat our on George and Lisa's front porch enjoying the evening view and eating ice cold watermelon.  It was another good day here in Tennessee and at the farm.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Freezing Corn On The Cob

Did you know you can freeze fresh corn on the cob?  I did not but I learned all about it when I was at Walmart buying corn on the cob.  It was on sale 5 for $1.00 and it was the mixed white and yellow corn called either butter corn or sugar corn.  So I bought 10 ears knowing that Tim and I could easily eat them before they spoiled.  As I was checking out the cashier told me that you can freeze fresh corn on the cob and then proceeded to tell me how.  According to the cashier all you have to do is shuck the corn, husks and silks.  Wash it and let it dry then when the corn is dry put the corn on the cob in a zip lock bag and place it in the freezer.  So, I did just that.  Later I research it freezing corn on the cob on the internet and found out that most people blanch it but that yes indeed you can just freeze the corn.  So, I have 8 ears of corn in the freezer and two in the fridge waiting for Tim and I to eat them.  I will let you know how the frozen corn on the cob tastes when I get it out of the freezer.  I think tonight Tim and I will have corn on the cob for dinner, yum!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Nice 4th Of July

For years July 4th was pretty much the same for us.  I usually had to work but I always had the evening off so we always went to the see the fireworks either at Moosehaven in Orange Park, by boat on the river or at Middleburg High School.  Which ever we did we were always with family and friends.  Since we sold our home we have celebrated the 4th of July 6 different ways.  In 2010 we were at Flamingo Lake (in Florida) having a BBQ and we enjoyed their fireworks, 2011 Tim and I  were at Disney World. 2012 Tim and I were in Clinton, IN where the Thousand Trails we were staying at had their own fireworks that did not start until after 11:00 pm because of the light and heat.  In 2013 we were at Yosemite National Park where we could not have any fireworks because of the draught in the area but we still had a great night with Bob and Robin and watching some fireworks later in the evening on TV.  In 2014 we spent the 4th of July with my Mom at her rehab center after she had broken her hip then enjoyed the LEGOLAND fireworks at poolside at a Carlsbad resort. 
This year we spent July 4th at the farm.  We started our day down at the orchard harvesting more zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and blueberries but we also picked okra and green peppers for the first time.  We had a quiet afternoon working on different projects and then had a great BBQ dinner.  Lisa made salsa using all of the crops she had harvested.  It was delicious.  We had grilled pork chops, grilled zucchini and squash, a grilled mixture of corn on the cob, carrots and potatoes, Asian slaw, French bread and watermelon.  For dessert Lisa made a pink lemonade pie.  It was good.  We ended our evening watching at least 5 different firework shows while we sat on George and Lisa's front porch.  It was a great 4th of July spent with good friends, good food and starting a new way to celebrate the 4th for years to come and hopefully with more family and friends.
I hope you had a wonderful July 4th too!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th Of July!

Today we celebrate our country's birthday and independence.  Since 1776 we have enjoyed our liberties and freedom and hopefully we will continue to do so.  With all the uproar about the Confederate flag it would be nice if today we could come together and enjoy this wonderful celebration.  We will be grilling, weather permitted, and then attending the Parrottsville 4th of July celebration.  I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July.  Enjoy, be safe and remember how we became a country and all the sacrifices that were made to keep our Nation Strong and independent.   Happy 4th!!!

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Costco Run And A Big Harvest

Yup we took our first Costco run since being back from our trip.  When we left Parrottsville in April we pretty much got rid of all our perishable food so we would not have some kind of lab experiment growing in our refrigerator.  We emptied out our chest freezer in the shed and turned it off.  We turned it back on Wednesday night so it would be ready for our purchases yesterday.  So with our lists made we headed to Knoxville but stopped at Cracker Barrel first for breakfast.  It was a rainy day so it was a good day to shop.  We were surprised how empty Costco seemed to us especially after being in the one in Honolulu where you could not walk down any of the aisles without bumping into people.  We walked all through Costco to shop and look at items and then bought our items and headed for home.  Now we are in pretty good shape for food except our meats which I will share more about that tomorrow. 
After dinner last night we went down to the Orchard to check on the crops and we had another bumper day harvesting zucchini, summer squash and tomatoes.  We also got a few more cucumbers and more blueberries.  We did harvest some items for the first time.  Some green beans were ready to be picked along with a few peas.  Broccoli was ready for the first time and wild blackberries.  So it was another great day for the farm.  I also want to thank Lisa for the batch of fresh blueberry muffins she made and shared with me.  They were delicious!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Little Productive

So for the past few days I have been busy working in the Crafty Cottage creating Door Prizes for my sister Pam's Stamp and Stack (SAS) that is in a couple of weeks.  After I finished Door Prizes One and Two I had a hard time figuring out Door Prize Three.  I finally did and then the next morning I created Door Prize Four and Five.  I know I only need four door prizes but Pam can always use it at her SAS in September. It will be up to her which ones she wants to use. 
Today we are headed to Knoxville and Costco.  Our freezer is back on since we have been back home so now it is time to fill it up.  Check back and see how we did!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti

I loved Baked Ziti so when I cam across a recipe for Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti I wanted to try it.  The best thing about the recipe is that it looked easy.  My sister and I made it when we were still visiting in California and as I am making my grocery list I came upon the recipe again and decided to share it.  This makes a lot so there will be leftovers which is good because it freezes well and tastes even better the next time.  I did get this recipe from Pinterest  but it was originally from GIMMESOMEOVEN.  If you make this and take a picture send it to #GIMMESOMEOVEN but also share it with me.  I would love to know what you thought!

Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti

12 ounces of pasta (any shape)
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (2 small chicken breasts)
1 25 ounce jar of Pasta Sauce (any flavor works)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese ( we used 2 cups) 2% low fat works too.
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese ( we used Costco's)
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Cook pasta, drain and return pasta to pot and add chicken and pasta sauce.  Gently toss until all the pasta and chicken are coated.
3. Pour half of the pasta into a greased 11x7inch or 9x13 inch baking dish.  Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and half of parmesan cheese and basil.  Layer the remaining half of the pasta evenly on top.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese ( we used a whole cup because we wanted it cheesy).
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and just barely starts to turn golden.  Remove and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.  Serve warm.

We make a salad and some garlic bread to go with the chicken parmesan baked ziti and it was all delicious.  Try it and let me know how you liked it!