A dream come true

It may sound silly to you, but it has been a dream of mine for quite some time to know how to can my own food.  When Paul met me I was idyllic and dreamy of growing my own food, cooking and sewing and painting and creating.  I couldn't cook anything but Mac and Cheese and didn't know how to sew a button.   It was bad and my dreams felt pretty out of reach.  I didn't even know where to begin.  Let's just say, Paul has eaten his share of throw away meals in the last 10 years.

There has been something in me for a long time that struggles with my complete dependence on everyone else for my survival.  I would think to myself, "If anything happened that took away grocery stores, communication, anything, I really wouldn't know how to take care of myself."  I saw strong survival qualities getting lost on our generations.  I saw people who work, but don't know how to live or take care of themselves.  It really bothers me.  We make money, but don't know how to take care of ourselves.

Fast forward eight years, and now looking at my family's need for healthy food, locally grown and organic, it just makes sense.  The time felt right.  I tried my hand at a vegetable garden a few years ago.  We ended up with a few cucumbers and some peppers.  Not that great.  I think I grew more weeds than food.  Last year, I increased my garden double in size,  I had Paul cut down three trees in our backyard for more sun exposure,I built my own fence and had the neighborhood kids come over and help me plant.  I went all out and was so excited for my garden. 

Then a tornado dropped a garage on my garden and I was left with nothing.  For all that happened and was destroyed, I was saddest for my garden.  Heh, I would randomly say to Paul when we were fallling asleep last summer, "I miss my garden".  He would just laugh at me.  It was pathetic.

Well, I was ready this year.  We re dug our plot and planted away.  I was diligent in my weeding and watering and was so impressed with the food coming out of our garden, and the fresh food we were eating, but we couldn't keep up, and the point was to preserve the food for winter. 

Well, I don't know how to do that.  Remember, it was my dream, not my reality.

Thank you dear Heather for offering your mom's hobby farm and her time to help me out!  Spending time with my mother in law in Texas showed me how much knowledge can come from sharing a kitchen with someone.  Yes, you can follow a recipe and search the Internet for answers to your questions, but nothing beats having a teacher/mentor in the kitchen with you.  That's what I wanted for all my questions about food, and how to can it, how to preserve it, what other options I have.  I wanted to share the kitchen with someone who has spent years figuring it out.  Well, Heather's mom saved the day!

Two weekends ago, my sweet friend Heather and I drove my three kids, a huge box of food from our garden and our adventurous spirits 45min north of the cities to her mom's house where we had a blast for two days.

We showed up on a Friday afternoon and the kids went right out to play and run around the acreage.  Probably the best feeling ever to just let your kids run around outside for hours knowing they won't get taken or lost or learn to curse.

Isn't it just perfect?  I couldn't resist taking this photo.  It feels safe and warm and like home.

Here is Big and Little playing catch with Emit, my friends dog.  And yes, Little is acting like a princess.  While they were playing catch, and middle was digging in the sandbox, Heather's mom and I were pealing and boiling two HUGE pots of tomatoes for Spaghetti sauce.  I went to work right away in that woman's kitchen which was exactly what I wanted.  We had big plans for all we were going to can and cook in two days.

Here is her chicken coup where she houses over 20 chickens.  And she was so kind to send us home with two dozens fresh eggs.  BEST GIFT EVER!

With all the fresh food we were preparing and eating, the kids got to feed the chickens all the time and loved it.  I'm not gonna lie, every meal felt like we went to the garden and picked our meal.  We ate fresh from the garden beans, corn, squash, zucchini  for bread, eggs, tomatoes, and watermelon.  The chickens loved that we were there.

After peeling and coring all the apples and piling them in the huge pot and doing the same with the tomatoes,  we took the kids to the lake while food cooked.  It was hot and the perfect time to cool off.  The kids spent their time digging for great rocks and shells and playing with all the dogs that showed up.  Great fun.

After a yummy supper, we enjoyed fresh warm apple sauce around a fire.  We burned pine cones, sticks and needles.  We also got to pick fresh apples off the three trees they have on the farm and enjoy those around the fire.

A beautiful photo of the front of the vegetable garden.

While in the kitchen working on grading zucchini to freeze, Little enjoyed the tire swing.

When it started to rain, Big improvised and drove around inside the barn.  I could have left him there and he never would have missed me.

Little got to be pushed around in a vintage stroller.  Yes her shoes don't match, that is the price you pay for empowering your children to dress themselves.  But she is wearing my pants from when I was 2.  She's so old school.


My friend Heather took this photo of my dream coming true.  She said she had to capture the moment since I had been wanting and waiting to can for so long.  In the end I love that she take the picture.  It may sound silly, but dreams come in all sizes and they take on different shapes and colors.  This was a dream of mine, and I love that it came true.  Heather's mom gave me her weekend, her time, her kitchen and let me ask dozens of questions, let me kids run around her home, and she taught me to can my food.  She was this huge gift in the process of giving us a healthier, happier, self sufficient life.  She gave me a tool to help love myself and my family.  A way to protect and preserve heritage traits and talents.  I am so grateful to her and Heather for helping make a dream come true.  It's a big deal to make room for dreams, whether big or small.  It was such a fun weekend, full of joy, laughs, learning and conversation.


Look what we did! 9 cans of spaghetti sauce, 5 cans of apple juice, 5 cans of apple sauce, and 12 bags of frozen zucchini for breads and soups.

At the last minute, we sent the kids out in the rain to collect as much Basil as they could.  Heather's mom had already collected as much as she wanted so the rest would just go to waste.  All the green in front of the kids is basil, and they picked a ton for me.  We made four big jars of pesto before we left Saturday night.  No matter how organic, locally grown pesto is, it will always include cheese.  We haven't had pesto in 18 months, but now.... Now we can have pesto twice a month if we want!  We are so excited if you can't tell.  Pesto noodles, pesto pizza, marinated pesto chicken, and homemade pesto gnocchi.

I had a small dream come true.  My kids got out of the hood for the weekend.  We had good, unscheduled fun with animals, plants, water and toys.

Thank you Lord for refreshing our weary souls and providing ways for dreams to come true.