Sunday, May 31, 2009

Farmers Market

We survived another Farmers Market and it was our most successful one to date! We had our first decent size showing of tomatoes and within the first hour, all of the best ones were gone! I came home with just six pints of grape tomatoes (not bad when I started the day with nearly 26) and ten pounds of squash (the day started with lots and lots of squash)!! Elizabeth, as always, is the main attraction to our table! Travis had to work yesterday, so his dad helped me with Elizabeth and sell at Market. Thanks a bunch!!

I also had some time to make myself a new table cloth! I had this fabric lying in a box, so I hemmed the edges and ta-da! I like it, it makes me stand out! I also noticed that one of the other ladies that sells at Market is now showing up with a table cloth for her table when just last week, she had nothing...I think I've started something!!

These sweet old ladies are trying to coax Elizabeth out from under the table, but she wasn't too sure about that!

With that snooty face, she would have scared off some customers, but she's still just too cute!
Our next Market is on Tuesday. Travis is going out of town sometime Monday to plant trees and won't be back home until Wednesday or Thursday, so I may be looking at my first solo market. Scary!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Picking in the Rain

For those of you keeping up, Market is tomorrow. Today, as Elizabeth & I were packing up to go to the garden, the bottom fell out of the sky. We had to pick in the rain! Soaked to the bone, we picked tomatoes and squash. It didn't rain much, but it sure came down hard. After the rain stopped, Elizabeth proceeded to find every mud hole in which to play. We had to hose her off before giving her a bath! Here are a few pictures of our rainy day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Canning Green Beans

It's that time of year, again! Time spent picking until you're back hurts so badly you can hardly stand it is off-set by good, fresh vegetables, beautiful gardens, and canning! Even though it takes a lot of time, I enjoy canning. We've finally picked enough green beans for the first batch.

First things first...washing all of the beans.

Next, I tipped and snapped.

After washing the jars in super hot water, I packed the beans in, added canning salt, and poured almost-boiling water over the beans, leaving 1" headspace. I decided to use quarts this year because Travis & I can eat an entire pint at one meal and not have any left-overs. Now that Elizabeth is eating table food, and loves green beans, quarts will feed us all and I may even have enough for lunch the next day.

The lids have to be soaked in hot, but not boiling water for a few minutes while the jars are being prepared. This softens up the rubber comound so after processing, the lids will seal airtight.

Next, the lids are placed on the jar, along with a ring, screwed on until just tight. You don't want it to be too tight, because the lid does not need that much pressure on it to seal. Load the jars into the canner, which needs to have 1-3" of simmering water in it. You also do not want to place the jars directly on the bottom of the canner. My canner came with a rack that fits into the bottom to place the jars on. I can get four quart jars into my canner. Close the lid and process quarts at 10 lbs pressure for 25 minutes. You don't start your time until it reaches 10 lbs, or very close to it. It is also important to keep an eye on your pressure; you want it to stay as constant as possible, so you'll have to keep adjusting the heat while it's doing its thing.

After 25 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the pressure to return to zero. Do not open or attempt to open the canner before then! Open the lid and remove the jars. I have a nifty jar lifter to get my jars out of the canner. You'll want to transfer the jars a short distance to a place where they will not be disturbed for approximately 24 hours. I used a little rolling cart that I had and left it in the kitchen overnight. When the jars were cool, I just rolled my little cart against an empty wall. As the jars seal, you will hear a popping noise for every jar you process. After 24 hours, you can press your finger down on the top of the jar. If it does not move, then you have successfully completed the process! If it does pop up and down, that's ok, too. Just move that jar into the refrigerator and eat within a week!

I had four quarts process successfully. I started with seven, but on three of the jars, the bottom broke out during processing. When Travis & I lived in College Station, we saw a free add for canning jars and promptly went to pick them up. Some of them must be an off-brand of jar, because the three that broke during processing were all the same brand. If a jar does break on you, it's not a big deal, just wait until the water cools and clean it out. You won't be able to eat the beans floating in the bottom; just toss them out along with the broken glass. It's always safe then to wash the canner out with hot, soapy water before processing your next batch.

There are books available to help you with all of your food-storage needs. My MIL gave be a book, Ball Blue Book of preserving, that I use constantly. If you do decide to put up your own produce and need help or advice, leave your question in the comments section or give me a call!

Farmers Market

Yesterday was another Farmers Market day. It had rained early Tuesday morning, so we all got a little bit of a late start getting motivated to get out there. Travis needed to go out of town, but he was able to help me set up before he left. And just when I thought it would just be Elizabeth and me for the day, Stephen's girlfriend, Lori, showed up to help!

I didn't get any pictures of the table this time, but all we had was squash/zucchini, bell & jalapeno peppers, grape tomatoes, and large tomatoes. We had a fairly slow day, but by 1:00 p.m., we had sold everything except for a few squash and zucchini. Not too bad for a Tuesday. I am starting to see some "loyal customers" who love my tomatoes. It's just a handful, but they come every day that I am there! (Yes, I know I've only been four times...)

Lori keeps Elizabeth entertained!

I'm not completely sure why, but lately Elizabeth has really liked putting things on her head, even clean clothes out of the laundry basket!

It got a little warm later in the morning, but we were under shade! Too bad the shade doesn't stop Sweet Baby Girl from turning red in the face! She takes after her momma! But she is being very good in her play pen; she's just reading away!

Next day to go is Saturday! We picked last night and I already have more tomatoes picked for Saturday than I took on Tuesday, so hopefully it's the start of more ripening tomatoes!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Good-bye, RAV

Today, we said goodbye to the first car I ever owned. I thought I would be a little sad, but no. It's safe to say that I'm glad to see it go! I can call our insurance company tomorrow and take it off of our policy!! Yay! I would have taken a picture of it driving away, but I thought that would be a little strange. The people that bought it have a new driver, so it'll be good for them. They seem like a nice enough family, even though they did both graduate from that other school!

Aww, I just now remembered that the RAV was the car that brought Elizabeth home from the hospital! Travis was so frustrated because we had so much stuff in the room! It almost wouldn't all fit. And then the car seat was HUGE and it would hardly fit! But we made it home to our first apartment together and my two favorite people took a little nap.

Maybe, I'll miss that car a little after all...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Farmers Market

Today was another Farmers Market day. I finally made a nice sign for my table. It's taken me awhile to decide on a name, but "Sara's Garden" it is. My brother-in-law, Stephen, made a vegetable stand for me as a project for his welding class and today was the first day I had enough produce to use it. It works great and looks good, too! I think Travis would still like to spray paint the stand, which would help me not get so dirty unloading it. I'll also keep looking for baskets that acually fit correctly in the trays, but for now, I went and bought four wicker serving trays from Target. I absolutely loved them as soon as I saw them on the shelf! Spring is always a great time to look for thing like that. If I ever do get different trays for the stand, then I will use these wicker trays for the vegetables on the table. I think they will look so much better than the cardboard flats I've been using. I got lots of good feedback on the way I had everything set up...people really liked it.

Today we had tomatoes, green tomatoes, pint baskets of grape tomatoes, red potatoes, big onions, green onions, 2 types of bell pepper, jalapenos, and different types of squash. I should note that these pictures were taken after a big influx of people flocked to my table to buy produce. So my table and baskets may look skimpy, but they weren't when market opened for the day!

Travis & Elizabeth slept late this morning while I went on ahead to Market. Travis has been up and out of the house super early the last few days and was starting to get run down, so he needed the extra rest. It was pretty warm outside and not much of a breeze in sight, so Elizabeth needed a little water. She puts her mouth over the entire opening of the bottle...I'm surprised she even gets to swallow anything!

While we didn't have any customers, she kept us entertained with silly faces.

Hopefully, within a couple of weeks, we'll have a lot more produce. It all seems like tons to me since I've never had a garden this big, but soon I should have tomatoes galore!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


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Farmers Market

Market days are upon us! Last Thursday was our first day of Farmers Market, and we did fairly well! The market is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. We'll most likely try to go on Tuesday and Saturday since three times a week seems daunting...unless we just have so much produce we don't know what to do with it! Today was Elizabeth's first day at market and she was extremely good...not to mention all of the people she draws to our table! We were completely sold out of produce by 11:30 a.m. I should probably mention that compared to the other stands there, we hardly have anything. My garden was a little later than everyone else's, so we're just getting going with a little steam.

We had Vine-Ripe Tomatoes, a few Bell and Jalapeno Peppers, pint baskets of Grape Tomatoes, Squash, Texas 1015 sweet onions, Green Onions, and Turnip Greens (which only two people bought). We did cook up a pot of the green for supper tonight. With bacon and onion, they're not too bad, but I'd pass them up, too. It's just not something that sounds yummy.

My tomatoes went extremely fast. I was the only farmer at market today who had tomatoes grown in Victoria County. One other guy had them, but he buys his produce down in the Rio Grande Valley and then brings it up to our market. People would much rather have something local.

We even set up Elizabeth's play pen. She was pretty good in there for quite awhile. Travis took her in the car mid-morning to run some errands and she fell asleep. So I moved her from the car to the play pen and she took a good litte nap right up until we sold out and it was time to go home.
Of course, this evening we were back at the garden doing a little picking and cleaning up. Travis and Elizabeth cleaned up all of the Zen Greens. It's a little warm for them, but we'll try to keep them going a little longer...the leaves they chopped off were riddled with worm holes. Little miss Princess got a ride in her chariot! Be careful, your driver turns into a bump on a log when the 10 o'clock news comes on! Just kidding, sweetie.

Isn't she just too cute!? I think so, but then again I'm her mommy! My little gardener.

Kate's Trip Home & Matt's Birthday

Ok, so it wasn't only Kate's trip home...she brought Nick, too! They came home for Jacob & Lacy's wedding. It was a really nice, small wedding and it was over really early. We were home by 9:15 p.m.! We all got to see some of our friends from back home and hang out for a little while. Elizabeth was pretty good although I did have to take her out of church once for hitting me. I'm not looking forward to this phase! I was even able to get her to sleep for a couple of hours at the dance! Lucky me!

Then Sunday was Matt's 21st birthday! Wow, we're all really, really legal adults! Our grandparents on my Mom's side came over for lunch and a visit. It only lasted a few hours, though, because we all had to be on the road by 2 p.m. We had a garden to pick and Kate & Nick had a flight to catch in Austin.

Here are Kate and Nick and his first ever Big Red Ice Cream Float...he's been deprived!

And here's Travis with his cute little float:

And Matt with his signature deer-in-the-headlights pose:

And Matt blowing out his birthday candles!

If you are wondering where sweet baby girl is, she's upstairs taking a nap! But for good measure, here's a picture of her in her new lawn chair that I bought her yesterday at HEB. It's a little flimsy and she's already fallen over trying to get in it, but she'll get better...and I'll move it a little farther away from the hard places, too!

It was a great weekend...Happy Birthday, Matt!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Boo Radley's Kittens

My in-laws cat, Boo Radley, had kittens last weekend while we were away in Austin at a wedding. I finally got back to the very back of the shop to take a couple of pictures of the seven cute kittens.

We didn't pick any up...Boo might not have liked that. While she is a fairly laid back kitten, (and obviously a little bit of a tramp...where is the baby daddy?) you never know how they're going to react when you play with their new babies. So maybe in a few weeks, I can get some pictures of Elizabeth with the kittens.

Elizabeth likes looking out of the window, so when she's being really quiet, I know the first place to look. This is what I find:

Just legs! Our street stays fairly busy with traffic, so I guess she likes looking at the passing cars. There have been some guys working across the street puting in new drain pipes, but they're the kind you avoid eye contact with. They're not cute construction workers, so I don't know what she's looking at!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tons Of Fun

We've been up to lots of stuff, as usual! Here's some of what's been going on.

Elizabeth was given a huge stuffed caterpillar for her birthday by her great-grandparents. She loves it. She plays with it in her crib before she falls asleep at night and for naps. Sleepy Puppy is still in there, too, but she uses the caterpillar like a body pillow!

Last Thursday, we were busy in the garden and Elizabeth was taking time to have a little snack in between playing with Grandpa and the dog, Jenny.

She's such a cutie! And, she loves playing in the's just too bad she likes to eat all of the grass!
Here I am with this year's onion crop. I'm really impressed with how well they grew. Next year, I know to grow a whole lot more of these! They're huge!
Here I'm picking tomatoes, and Travis is putting a third string on the indeterminate tomatoes already! They're growing so tall. We've had really nice weather and they like it hot. I was in the garden again yesterday, and we've got worms again, so I'll have to spray today.

Here we are at Alison & Donnie's wedding this past weekend. They were married at a church near Cedar Park and the reception was at The Oasis on Lake Travis. It was so hot early on during the reception. Everyone was sweating and fans weren't helping! (I'm sure my couple of glasses of wine didn't help, either!!) After the sun went down, it cooled off a little and was pretty nice.
Sunday was my MIL's birthday. So we took the scenic route from the Cedar Park area down to Gruene. We ate at the Gristmill, went to the General Store, and walked down to the Guadalupe River.

After eating and a little sight-seeing, Travis, James, and my FIL took Elizabeth and headed back home. MIL & I went shopping at the outlet mall in San Marcos for a few hours before heading back. When we did get back home, Elizabeth had been fed and bathed!! Woohoo! Supper was ready, and we had a little birthday party, complete with a cake and presents. Elizabeth was waiting patiently for her slice of cake while we sang "Happy Birthday".
Lying on the floor after supper (or any meal for that matter) is a sacred tradition at my in-laws and Elizabeth always has to be the center of attention. Not only does she have daddy wrapped around her little finger, but I think the uncles are, too!