October 23, 2012

Apples and Sauce

It's apple season! I love this time of year, not only because of the delicious apples, but the beautiful weather that goes along with them.

On Saturday we made a trip to an apple farm about an hour out of town. My sole purpose was to get apples for making sauce. And I picked up a few for snacks... I probably would have bought out the whole farm if I had the room in the car. Fresh apples are the best heaven on earth.

Yesterday I turned 20 pounds of these

into this

which then became 13 of those lovely pints you see in the top picture. The boys had a few bowlfuls for lunch, including the baby who, after the first bite, responded by opening his mouth very wide and lunging for the spoon. I think he liked it.

I used mostly Golden Blush, with a few (maybe 4 or 5) Red Delicious thrown in. I also added a bit of cinnamon, since I like spiced applesauce. The apples are so delicious on their own that I only added a tiny bit of sugar - a half, maybe three quarters of a cup total for all 20 pounds. I just doubled the juice and cinnamon in the recipe for my 20 pounds.

Applesauce - makes 8 pints or 4 quarts
12 pounds apples, peeled, cored and quartered*
Up to 3 cups sugar - optional and to taste
4 Tbs bottled lemon juice
1-2 tsp cinnamon
Place apple chunks into a large pot with just enough water to prevent sticking. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and boil until apples are soft. Let cool slightly.

Working in batches, transfer to a food mill or food processor and puree apples. Return to pot, adding sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and stir to prevent sticking, then keep at a low simmer while filling jars.

Fill sterilized jars to 1/2" headspace. Water bath both pints & quarts for 20 minutes.
*I left all of mine with the peels and cores intact, removing nothing but the stem and chopping them into quarters. Then I just ran them through my food mill/strainer and it worked perfectly. So much less work, and so much quicker.

I still have quite a few Golden Blush left, which I think I will use the make turnovers or some delicious dessert!

Happy Eating,

October 16, 2012

Deodorant Update & A Lip Balm Recipe

The homemade deodorant post was surprisingly popular! My beeswax came and I've tried using it in my latest batch of deodorant. It works great! The wax made it solidify enough that it's not runny anymore and will hold it's shape nicely in my recycled container. Be very, very sparing when applying this. It doesn't take much at all!

3 Tbs Coconut Oil
1 Tbs Beeswax
2 Tbs Cornstarch
2 Tbs Baking Soda
10 - 15 drops Tea Tree essential oil
15 - 20 drops Peppermint essential (or scent of your choice)

Melt the oil and wax together in a double boiler*.
Mix together the cornstarch and baking soda in a separate bowl.

Once the oil and wax are melted, stir in the essential oils, then mix the cornstarch and baking soda into the oil/wax mix, stirring with a pair of chopsticks. Remove from heat and stir occasionally until the mixture thickens but is still pourable. Pour into an empty and clean deodorant tube. Refrigerate until hardened, then you can store at room temperature.

This recipe generously filled a 2.6 oz deodorant tube with just a bit leftover. 

I tried making some lip balm the other day with a 1:1 mix of coconut oil and beeswax. It was a trial run and I was testing out the ratios. While it was still a decent lip balm (it worked just fine on my chapped lips) it wasn't as silky and glossy as I prefer my lip balms to be, so I remelted everything and added more coconut oil. The new batch is perfect - silky and smooth and just a bit glossy to add some sheen to dry lips.

Lip Balm
2 parts coconut oil
1 part beeswax
10-20 drops essential oil of choice

Melt oil and wax in a double boiler*.
Add essential oils and stir.
Pour into small tins or lip balm tubes (clean out your old ones and use them!). Allow to cool before using.

*My "double boiler" for these has consisted of a empty and clean tin can from crushed tomatoes placed into an inch or so of boiling water. Works great!  

Happy Tuesday!

October 10, 2012

Mid-Week Random

Random Zombie picture.
I figured it's close enough to Halloween that zombies are appropriate now. ;)

~ First things first! I haven't turned my air conditioner on since Monday morning! I LOVE this weather. It has been a wonderfully breezy and cool mid-upper 70's so far this week. We have a chance of rain tomorrow and I really hope that holds out and happens. I would love a good storm and I really hope we have a wet winter.

~ Our debt free saga continues: While we've been "commercial" debt free since June of last year, we are still working our house. We played around with some numbers and realized that we can pay it off in 6 years for sure, possibly sooner. Considering we just bought it in 2009, I think that's a pretty cool thing. And once that's done we can work toward getting a chunk of land for the farm/ranch we dream of. 

~ Last night Ben and I were sitting on the porch enjoying the cool night when I heard a noise on the other side of the fence. We have stray cats all over the neighborhood so I figured that was just what it was, when I looked over and saw the figure scurrying along the top of the fence... And it wasn't a cat. It was an opossum! I couldn't believe it! I've never seen one up close before (it was seriously 5 feet away)... actually I don't think I've seen one in person before, and it kind of freaked me out. We're on the outskirts of town, but still in a fairly populated area, and I didn't know we had that kind of wildlife around here.

Swirly lace edge wrap in progress

~ I'm at the tail end of this large order - I have two scarves and two pairs of fingerless mitts done, and that leaves the wrap I am currently working on and one more scarf. After that, an order of Emilies in a few different colorways.

I still have openings for anything that can be completed from mid-November forward. If you'd like to place an order, now is the time!

I think my favorite part about working on orders is not so much the knitting and creating (which is fun, don't get me wrong) but getting the yarn in the mail. I love getting boxes of yarn in the mail. It's like presents! I have one due the beginning of next week and I can't wait.

~ I woke up to Munchie saying "nanananana" and "mumumumumum" on Monday morning. Looks like little Mr. is going to be an early talker. He spent all of dinner fussing at and talking to his food last night, in a very serious fashion. It was really cute.

~ I've been in a housekeeping and organizing slump for awhile - since about the time Munchie was born I think. I've been feeling so scatter brained and really not my normally anal self. A friend gave me an organizational handbook for home and school complete with blank forms and how to use them and as I've been reading through it my brain is feeling more refreshed and ready to get back into the swing of things. I've realized that we need a new schedule now that we are doing school in the mornings (my usual Clean The House time) and it has given me some new ideas on keeping up with paperwork and everything else. It's called The 99 Cent Notebook System, for anyone interested (put out in the late 90's). Thank you Sandy! I think you saved my sanity.

~ We are late in starting our fall garden, but I'm hoping to get seeds in the ground this weekend. All my seedlings that I had started in the garage died - a million degrees and not enough water will do that. Plus out of sight, out of mind didn't help. So! I'll just be restarting everything in our garden beds and see what happens.

~ Quick P90X update: We're in week 5! Some days I really just want to quit, but I'm so glad Ben is doing it to keep me going. I feel like if I quit and he keeps going I'm a total wimp. Good news is I've lost 2 inches since we started. I'm also starting to lose a bit of actual weight now that my muscle weight has seemed to hit the max. For awhile I wasn't gaining or losing, so I must have been switching fat weight for muscle weight. But as of this morning I've lost 3 of the 15 pounds I want to lose. Huzzah!

Happy Wednesday!

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