Easy Fig and Honey Jam

image

Ingredients:
6 cups fresh figs (washed & quartered)
1 whole lemon (sliced and de-seeded)
1 1/2 cups honey
1/2 cup of water

Directions:
Place all ingredients in pot.
Bring to a boil.
Once figs start to get soft, press then remove lemon slices.
Mash figs with a potato masher.
Mix constantly (you don’t want to burn the honey).
Bring to a boil.
At this point you can either continue to mash with the potato masher, or you can use a emersion blender (That’s what I did).
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to simmer.
Stir constantly for 15-20 minutes.
Test set.
If the jam is set, ladle into sterilized jars. If you aren’t happy with the set, continue to simmer until the test set is correct.
Water bath can for 10 minutes.

Advertisements

Easy Banana Jam

Don’t. Let your ripe bananas go to waste. Use this jam with your peanut butter sandwiches, on top of ice cream or in banana bread recipes (adjusting the sugar requirements).

image

Ingredients:
8 medium ripe bananas
2 cups of sugar
Citric acid (1 tspn per cup of mashed banana) or 2 tspns of lemon juice.

In a large pot add bananas and sugar.
Mash them babies up.
Add citric acid/lemon juice.
Mix well.
Bring to a boil.K
Reduce heat to simmer.
Stir frequently until jam is desired consistency.
Ladle into sterilized jars.
Water bath can for 10 minutes.

image

Bonnie is in Puppy Heaven

The time is drawing near for my sweet Bonnie girl.
She has been battling lymphoma for 6 months now as I talk about in the Rainbow Bridge post.
She told me that she was ready to leave soon.
She was laying on the hardwood floor. Her breathing was heavy. She looked at me and I could see it in her eyes. She was uncomfortable.
I lay down on the floor beside her. My cheek on the cold wood floors, the same as hers. I admired her white fur peppered through her black. Her lips puddled on the floor under her head. Her tiny nose. Tears fell from mine.
I ran my fingers over her nape. This is her favorite spot for a good scratch. I pushed my fingers down into her thick fur and gently began to scratch. Her eyes brightened for a moment. She struggled to stand then slowly walked away from me to the other side of the room and lay down heavily again. She did not want me to scratch her anymore.

 

image

 

I called the vet the next day. I fought back the tears and made an appointment for Bonnie’s euthanasia. The vet would come to our house in 4 days.
Now I had to tell the kids.
I loaded up on snacks and bought a couple movies. I knew I needed to distract them for the sadness. The first night would be hard but then they would have the weekend to spend with her and to prepare for her departure.
Having to explain to your child, that someone they love is leaving them, is very hard to do. Seeing their eyes well up with tears. Their little cries of utter sadness. It broke my heart.
The next day we took all the dogs on a ride to grandmas house. Bonnie loved to go for rides.
The girls swam in the pool. Honey ran laps around the pool and occasionally jumped in for a swim. Bonnie stayed to herself and rested. Grandma fed her homemade fudge. Everyone was tired by the end of the day.

image (1)
On the third day my husband and I walked the property to find Bonnie’s final resting place. It was early and the air was cool. Bonnie’s dad had the painful job of digging her grave. I’m lucky to have him. I couldn’t do it.
After lunch we took Bonnie for a ride to the pet store. We bought her a new collar and tag and some special treats. My youngest daughter bought her a cookie with her own money. She wanted to save it for Bonnie’s special day.


image (6) image (3) image (2)

On the way home we went through the drive thru for ice cream. Bonnie got a peanut butter blizzard. But she didn’t want it. She thought we were at the bank and that she would be getting a treat. The tellers always put a treat in the canisters for her. She watches them glide through the pneumatic tubes with her ears perked up.
Tomorrow we will take her to the bank.

image (4)
After dinner we wrote letters to Bonnie telling her how much we love her and how we will miss her. We also found a sheet to bury her in. We wrote notes on the sheet too.

image (5)
None of us want to talk about our Bonnie girl leaving us but I can see that it helps.
For me, its a relief to talk about it. I have kept her illness a secret for months. I’ve ran all these scenarios through my head a hundred times. I’ve dreaded the idea of telling my children the news and seeing them being sad. But to finally be facing that fear, its almost joyful. Its weighed so heavy on my heart.
On the 4th day Annie gave Bonnie the treat she bought her, for breakfast.

image (7)
We went for a ride to the bank drive through. I put a note in the canister.
“Please send treats. My dog Bonnie loves coming to the bank for treats. She’s going to puppy heaven today”.
I could see the sad looks on their faces.
Bonnie’s ears perked up as she watched the canister glide through the pneumatic tube. She climbed into my lap excitedly.
They sent her 4 big treats. She scarfed them down.

image (8)
I drove home extra slow. It was Bonnie’s last ride. I turned the AC up and rolled the windows down for her. She stuck her face in the breeze. Taking deep breaths. She watched the sounds pass by. Sneezing occasionally. Panting heavy. This was her favorite thing to do.

image (9)
When we got home I gave her a bath. She wasn’t crazy about baths, but I wanted her to look her best when she got to puppy heaven.
Then we painted her nails hot pink. We put her new collar and tag on her. I don’t think she cared about any of it. But she would do anything for me. She looked great.

image (10) image (11)
I prepared the treats to keep the other dogs busy while the vet was visiting. Two almost empty peanut butter jars and two toy balls that dispense treats when rolled the right way. I sat them by the back door, ready to thrown them out when the time was right.
We decided that Bonnie should be put to sleep where she is most comfortable. She has been spending most of her time on our bedroom floor. Its cool in there, and quiet.
I cleaned the room up. I swept and put the nice bed spread on the bed.
Then we waited. If it weren’t for the incredibly sad event to take place we would almost be excited. I think we were all ready to rip that bandaid off. The sadness had been hanging around for days. We took our last photos with her.

image (13)
The vet called to let us know she was on her way.
We put Bonnie’s last meal together. On a big cookie sheet we placed all her favorite treats and things she never had before. Some of my crock pot lasagna, bologna, grandmas homemade fudge, the dog treats we made for her, a bar of chocolate, the remainder of the cookie Annie bought her, and a bowl filled with her peanut butter blizzard she never ate. We also had saved a Smoked butt bone for her.

image (12)
We brought her in our room and set out the buffet. She went straight for my lasagna, then the bologna, the grandmas fudge and homemade treats. She was loving it all. We brought her more lasagna and bologna. Soon enough she laid down. Her belly was filled. That’s when we gave her the smoked bone. She loved it. She grasped it between her two front paws and gnawed at all the bits of meat.

image (14)
The vet arrived. I put the two other dogs on the back porch with their treats. They were totally distracted.
The tears started to fill our eyes as soon as the doctor came in the house. We chatted for a minute. She told us that Bonnie had lived twice as long as the average dog does after diagnosis of lymphoma. Bonnie never quits. She hung on for us.
We went in the bedroom. Bonnie was standing there waiting at the door. She knew we had a guest. She walked up to the doc. Her little stub for a tail wagging away. The vet reached down and pet her. Telling her how pretty she was. Bonnie drank in the scratches and compliments.
The vet sat her bag down. She examined Bonnie gently. Speaking to her softly. “Oh, your a good girl aren’t you?”.
Bonnie laid down and went back to work on that bone.

image (15)
The vet gave her a sedative. We pet Bonnie and talked to her as she slowed down on the bone. We told her it was OK to sleep. Gently scratching her and caressing her fur. Her breathing got heavy and she dropped her bone.
I crawled down onto the floor, looking her in the eyes.
” Momma loves you, good girl. You are the best dog in the whole world. You did such a good job, everyday”. Crying heavily, I traced the wrinkles of her face, her ears, her lips, her little nose. Everyone was crying. Each of the girls came down and kissed her head and said good bye to her.         I told the vet we were ready as soon as Bonnie was. As I felt her warm fur for the last time, the Doctor gave her the final shot. Bonnie’s heavy breathing stopped. My baby was finally at peace. The sudden realization that life had left her body hit me like a rock. I wept.

The vet softly said goodbye and let herself out.

We cried and held her. We pet her. I rubbed her ears. We all sat on the floor and told stories about the silly things Bonnie did in life and how she was doing her favorite things in Heaven now. We loved on her for one last time.

We brought our two other dogs inside the room to smell her and see that she was gone and not just missing. They seemed more interested in the smells the vet had brought in with her rather than Bonnie. I suppose they were used to her laying around sleeping. Maple did seem concerned about me as I wept over Bonnie.Sticking her hose between Bonnie and I and licking my tears; her tail wagging heavily.

We wrapped her in the sheet we made for her, tucking her feet close to her body like a newborn. We all walked together to her grave. We read our letters to her. We left special things with her. We said goodbye.

image (16)

Of course there was crying and a heaviness in our home. But there was also a great sense of relief. We knew that she was in puppy heaven and no longer in pain, and we were actually happy for her, in that sense.

Its the every day routine that is hard. Not seeing her, when she should be there. Making two dog bowls of food instead of three. Being careful not to step on her in the darkness of night because her fur blends so well, but shes not there.  The sound of her snoring is gone. Its quiet. Our home is missing something.

IMG_302126717688470

 

Rest in peace Old Lady, you were the best dog in the whole world, and you were very loved.

IMG_302141411194612 IMG_302206583510629 IMG_302117226647121 IMG_302096881223951 (1) IMG_302220466576612 IMG_302066029734275 (1) IMG_302324424799958 IMG_302281704028203 IMG_302199235848495 IMG_302149139081067 IMG_302186018162771 IMG_302267774403313 IMG_302345642367763 (2) IMG_302172704266371 (1) IMG_302022803691740 IMG_302110076093633 IMG_302066029734275 Andrea s Phone Pics 2010 1449 20140216_162537 IMG_20140728_214738078 IMG_20140728_214801573 IMG_20140728_213246851 IMG_20140728_213144940 IMG_20140728_214817697 IMG_20140728_214750509 IMG_20140728_214714721 IMG_20140728_213053756 IMG_20140728_214727350 IMG_20140728_214656337 IMG_20140728_214618676

Snow2010 029 (1)

Swinging Chickens! DIY Chicken Toy.

Believe it or not, there is a chicken swing on the market. Once the chickens  get used to the swing, they seem to really enjoy it. But I was not willing to pay for something I could make myself!

What you need:
3″+/- diameter, straight(ish) Branch
Outdoor rope
Drill
Drill bit large enough to accommodate the rope

image

Here’s how to do it:
Drill a hole, about an inch from the end of each end of the branch. Try to keep them linear so the branch will hang straight.

image

Insert rope through drilled hole. Tie a tight knot on bottom side of branch.

image

I like to melt the fibers of the rope just a bit so be sure the knot doesn’t slip.

image

Leave the rope long enough to hang your swing about 6″ from the ground PLUS at least 3 feet for tying the swing to the desired branch.

Repeat this process on the other side of the branch. You may need to melt the threads at the end of the rope to help it get through the drilled holes easily.

Tie the swing to the branch. Here’s how I did it, but with 3 loops rather than 4.

image

Trim the rope with about 2″ of excess. Melt the end of the rope threads to give it a nice finish.

image

image

image

I bribed my girls to try out the swing by tying a bunch of lemon balm to the ropes of the swing. They weren’t buying it.

image

Update:
Today was day 2 of the swing introduction. I didn’t see the girls on the swing but I did see them scratching the ground around it. Later in the day I noticed the lemon balm missing. Someone had to climb up there to get it!

Update:
Today is day 4. They are finally giving it a try!
image

Easy Blueberry Jam – Pectin Free

image

Delicious and easy.
4 cups blueberries
4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Once the berries soften, crush them with a potato masher (or whatever works for you).
Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer.
While simmering continuously stir for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your desired consistency.
Test the set by dipping a metal spoon in the jam. Set the spoon in the freezer for 5 minutes. If you are happy with the consistency, ladle into sterilized jars. Water bath for 10 minutes.

Easy Wild Blackberry Jam – Pectin Free

Delicious and easy.
4 cups blackberries
4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Once the berries soften, crush them with a potato masher (or whatever works for you).
Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer.
While simmering continuously stir for 10 minutes.
Test the set by dipping a metal spoon in the jam. Set the spoon in the freezer for 5 minutes. If you are happy with the consistency, ladle into sterilized jars. Water bath for 10 minutes.

image

DIY Hose Reel

Photo Collage Maker_SUAUkO With summer in full swing here in Georgia, we’ve been utilizing the hose a lot around our homestead. I got tired of seeing my hose piled in a big knotted mess, so with help from the hubby, I put together this unique hose reel. The only thing we had to purchase to make this fantastic piece of yard art is the spray paint! Woot Woot! IMG_20140710_154917569_HDR (1)

Here’s how to do it:

Remove the tread and tube from the rim of an old tire.There are multiple ways to do this, we cut ours off with a saws all.

IMG_20140706_145406709

      Weld the rim to a metal T post. Don’t have a welder? You can JB weld it (you can buy it here , or at walmart). As long as you follow JB weld’s directions it should last a long time. IMG_20140706_150736648 (1)           Weld the rim, top and bottom, to the T post. IMG_20140706_145618611           Sand the rim and remove any dust. Clean it well so you will have a good bond with the spray paint. IMG_20140710_115804052_HDR (1)           Paint that bad boy. Re-coat if needed. IMG_20140710_120711726 (1)           Allow the paint to dry. IMG_20140710_154119748_HDR (1)             Stick that puppy in the ground where you want it. IMG_20140710_154917569_HDR (1)             TA-DA! Instant improvement!