Thursday, September 27, 2012

1 Potato, 2 Potato, 3 Potato, 4...

   We grew potatoes in the garden this year, but it's not enough to sustain this 7- member family of mine.
We eat potatoes in nearly every meal or, at least, once a day. After discovering how much we harvested from the garden, I was a little disappointed. I'm still learning how much I need to plant to grow enough food to feed my family for a year, so I'm looking at this as a learning experience. But still, in the end, it's just not enough to feed us for this season, so when I saw a simple ad in the local paper advertising potatoes, I just had to call. 

    A bushel of potatoes for $15. The average bushel weighs 60+ pounds. That equals out to .25 cents a pound. Pretty good deal to me.  We went to look at the potatoes, grown by a local farmer 10 miles from us and they were beautiful.  As beautiful as potatoes can be.  Thin-skinned and huge, nothing like the potatoes we grew! They were obviously sorted, because none of theirs had blemishes or worm holes. I bet they kept the poorer potatoes to keep and eat and sold the nicer looking ones to customers.

   Four bushels of potatoes came home with us and we spent the next couple of days working on one bushel, turning them into potato skins to freeze and canning irish potatoes for later. We also ate potatoes morning, noon, and night, and today, I can safely say, we are all potatoed out! The rest of the potatoes will go into storage in the basement and hopefully, last us through the winter.

 Simultaneously pressure canning irish potatoes and baking potatoes in the oven for potato skins.

 Peeling and chopping potatoes for irish potatoes. Potatoes get pre-cooked in boiling water for 10 minutes, then loosely packed in quart jars and pressure canned for 40 minutes. I figure on 2 quarts getting cooked up for every meal, so I'm hoping to put away 50 quarts of irish potatoes, which will equal 25 meals.

I can only pressure can 7 quarts at a time, so I've got 28 jars done, so far. Halfway there!

 Lost count of how many potato skins we have in the freezer now.  Andrew cooked up so many packages of bacon for the skins, and still did not put a dent in our bacon stock in the freezer! I know for sure, there are over 100 skins in the freezer, vacuumed-packed in batches of 6. We had a meal one night of nothing but potato skins.  Did you ever do that, eating out at a restaurant and ordering the potato skins appetizer as a meal? I used to do that a lot. I love me some potato skins!

The potato "guts" scooped from the skins got vacuum-packed, too, and will be turned into potato soup or mashed potatoes later on. I didn't measure the potatoes when I packed them, just eye-balled it, knowing by now, just how much my family can eat in one meal. I thought about making and canning potato soup, but my supply of jars is getting low, and making soup from scratch is pretty easy, especially now that I have pre-cooked potatoes in the freezer!

   I am *this* close to buying another bushel. I saw another farmer with a sign at the end of his driveway selling his potatoes for $12 a bushel! *smacks head!* That would have been .20 cents a pound! But by the time I came back to his farm to buy some, the sign was gone, too late! I think I'll be making another trip back to the first farmer and buy one more bushel, just in case. I'd rather have too much, than not enough.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Taking the Bad With the Good

When I first started this blog, I aspired to be widely-read and have millions of hits every month. I imagined getting sponsors and book deals and I'd never have to worry about money. My problem was coming up with fresh ideas every day, to keep people hungry and coming back for more! I can barely come up with an idea for a post once a month these days and even then, they garner no interest. I've long accepted that I'm not fame-worthy, and that's alright.  In my little part of the world, my children view me as the World's Greatest, Most Beautiful and Bestest Mom Ever! And my husband tells me I am The Most Beautiful Woman in the World, I am sexy and hot and the way he tells it, I've stepped right out of the pages of Playboy! And the chickens, they flock to me all happy and bow down at my feet every single day, without fail. OK, so they're pecking at the bread I've tossed, but it's my world, so let me be!

My point is, I'm happy. I love my family, my home, my life, and I am not some crafting genius or a whiz at coming up with original ideas. I constantly glean inspiration from other people but rarely come up with an idea of my own.  I'm just not creative that way. So often I see something and smack my head and ask myself, "why didn't I think of that?!"  Andrew and I talk about needing to invent something people can't live without, and then we'd be set for the rest of our lives, like whoever came up with the toilet brush? It's found in nearly every bathroom! And how about the guy that came up with Beanie Babies? Holy cow, that guy must be lying on a beach somewhere, sipping margaritas, calling to the help, "How much did I make today?"

My life might be normal, same thing day in and day out, pretty mundane, really. Boring, even. But there is stuff that happens here that shakes our life up and makes it fun. Nothing wild and crazy, but just enough to jiggle things around and make us laugh, drive us crazy, cause sleepless nights. Leaky roofs can drive one crazy. Cause us sleepless nights wondering how much it will cost to fix and if we can afford it. But at least we have a roof, right? So what if we have buckets and bowls and trashcans to catch the rain all over the attic floor, it's a lot more than some people have, and for that, I am grateful and thankful and I still can laugh at the sight of all those containers, looking very much like a scene out of those old cartoons I used to watch as a kid.

To shake things up a little bit and add some excitement to our lives, we decided to go to the county fair with the kids.  Not our little one, but a bigger one with more rides and a circus and lots more animals and events than our small town has.  We haven't gone anywhere this summer, just once to the little beach on the lake not too far from us, and so we felt like the kids deserved some fun. They have been hearing about friends going to amusement parks and vacations at the beach and camping trips, and we felt kind of bad that we couldn't afford any of that, yet we aren't apologetic about it, because there are times in one's life where you just can't do any of those things.  But the county fair, we could swing that.

We gathered up the kids, told them we were going to buy tickets and let them go on the rides all night long!  How excited they were!  Cheers went up! Yay for Daddy and Mama!!  We were cool.  We were awesome! We were the BEST PARENTS EVER! And it was great!  Lots of fun!  I took pictures of them on the rides and we saw the animals and exhibits. They went crazy over the long, tall slide and climbed what must have been hundreds of steps all the way to the top, just to slide down what took only seconds to get to the bottom, yet bounce up, that wild giddy look in their eyes and say, "Let's do that again!" Then the circus started and we watched a small family do amazing tricks with dogs, trampoline jumping, juggling, clown acts and a crazy round and round dare-devil act. It was fun!

Then 5 o'clock came and all of a sudden, the four wristbands the kids wore, that let them have unlimited access to the rides, the ones we paid a hard-earned $60 for, were no good. Imagine a giant buzzer sounding. Imagine all the rides and lights and music slowly grinding to a halt and the laughter and smiles quickly turning to tears and frowns and disappointment. It's safe to say that I was just as disappointed. Stupid, cheating, no-good fair! Those wristbands were only good until 5, then one had to buy new ones for an extra $3 each for a grand total of $72 for four tickets, just to continue riding until closing time. Not even a sign to caution people buying tickets before 5 o'clock. Stupid, cheating, no-good fair!

I can't look at the fair pictures without feeling that same disappointment we felt when we were not allowed to go on any more rides. Andrew and I tried to cheer the kids up, tell them we could still see the animals and the other exhibits we hadn't seen yet, but it was no good.  The thrill was gone. Feet were heavy and it took such effort to get them to the barns and even the sight of baby pigs didn't elicit any "aws" from the kids. Kettle corn didn't taste as good. It got hot and dusty and sticky. The kids complained they were tired and wanted to go home. And so we did. It was a grumpy ride home. The kids fought, we yelled. It was not the tired-but-happy-falling-asleep trip home I thought it would be. Stupid fair.

Here's the only picture I took at the fair after 5 o'clock:

Don't let that smile deceive you, believe me, it was a struggle to get them to pose for me. Right next to it, you can just see part of it, is a fake cow-milking display, where you can see what it's sort of like to milk a cow! I was pretty excited about it, but no one wanted to do it. I got Gretchen to give it a squeeze, but it was poor attempt, mostly just to appease me. Shortly after this, we left.

I share this because I want to remember this day. Even though it ended poorly, it was such a good day. I need to remind myself that I shouldn't dwell on the disappointments, but look at the fun bits! It was fun!  We were having a ball! They got to go on about 15 different rides, and see a circus, and just have fun together.  And they were awesome together-- watching out for each other and making sure Peter was right there with them. They held hands and sat together on the rides and encouraged one another when one of them was a little too scared. Those are the moments I need to remember. There are good and bad parts to each day, the trick is to focus on the good parts.

So what did I learn from this? For one thing, the next time we go to any sort of place that has rides, we're definitely asking if there's a time limit on those tickets we're about to pay for. But mostly, that even when we're feeling sad or disappointed, we still have each other, we still love each other and tomorrow is a brand new day.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

516 Antiques

The booth is lots of fun, I gotta tell you! 
First, I get to hit the yard sales and look for things I deem worthy for the booth.
That alone is one of my favorite things to do.
Second, I get to have my own "shop".
Okay, not exactly the same thing as opening my own store, but this has its' perks.
I don't need to be there except to restock and rearrange; I don't need to worry about all the overhead costs; I'm free to yard sale or flea market or whatever else I need to do; I only need to pay a small rental fee for the space and that's it. 
Pretty good for someone like me, already busy with kids, the garden, school lessons...

In case anyone is curious about the booth, here's a couple of photos:

The whole booth!
Every time I go in, I take photos and post them on the 516 Antiques Facebook page (go LIKE the page! There are a ton more photos there!).
Then I stare at all the photos, studying what I could do differently, taking notes for the next time I go in.
I'm really happy with the booth and the way it looks. 
I think it's colorful and cheerful and I hope it draws people in to see what else the booth offers.
I like color.  I enjoy those pops of happiness against the white background.

I brought in a new shelf on my last visit and I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  I like the rainbow of colors, and apparently, so did customers, because the yellow shelf is just about cleared! I can't wait to go back in this week and maybe change out what's left of the yellows with blues. I'll be going through my inventory and pulling blue items.

Our first full month- August, has done beyond what I hoped for! I hope September proves to do just as good! We are going to try and keep the booth going for as long as we can, selling the stuff we have stock-piled in the basement all these years, hoping someday to open a store of our own. I hope it's enough, to last through the winter when yard sales are no more, and I'll have only thrift stores to rely on for more inventory. Keep your fingers crossed for us! :o)

And in case anyone is wondering, 516 is our wedding date! May 16th!  We thought it was a good name, the day he and me became WE!

*I did as one of my readers suggested and switched to a different browser and sure enough, I can upload pictures.  Strange. Thanks for the tip, Cheyenne!