Thriving In My thrifty Week–June 8, 2020

My sister and niece, Michaela, u-picked some strawberries for us and drove them by as a very nice surprise. Rob and I had just been discussing whether or not our patch at our house would yield enough for all the jam we wanted to make, and we had just decided to go pick a few, so it was a very timely gift!

I used all the little odds and ends from our patch, plus some I froze, plus the ones they brought and made 18 jars of jam.

My friend, Jeannie, sent me some Tattler, reusable, canning jar lids. Because I’ve never used them before, I used one in this batch. I followed her instructions, did not tighten the ring very tight, and as far as I can tell, it sealed nicely. I only did one jar in case I got it wrong, but it worked! I appreciate her thoughtfulness, as I don’t think I would have had the courage to try these without her encouragement.

She also sent Rob some seeds for various greens she saved from her garden. He chose a few and already has little babies sprouting in the greenhouse to plant out when space frees up in the garden. He’s excited to see what grows.

I am picking a small bowl full of berries every few days from our patch. We are eating those fresh, and I’ve been freezing a few here and there. It’s very easy to just add to a bag of berries until it is full, and transfer it to the big freezer so not a berry gets wasted. We use the frozen strawberries for smoothies during the winter.

I picked raspberries, strawberries, green onions, lettuce, snow peas, cabbage, boc choi, cilantro, and thinned out a few collard green plants from my very small planting. That is a new vegetable for us, and it seemed a bit tough in Rob’s stir-fry. I’m going to do some research and see if I need to cook it differently.

Patsy had her 16th birthday yesterday. She felt very spoiled as 3 different groups brought her treats, flowers, and gifts and left them on our doorstep. I made a chocolate cake and thankfully we let her start it Saturday night, since another friend brought a cake and ice cream over on Sunday. She and Rob drove out for a Little Caesar’s pizza Saturday and I made tacos on Sunday.

Rob made her a jewelry box. The brave man also did the ear piercing she asked for by ordering an ear-piercing gun off the internet and doing the job. He’s much, much braver than I am, but it was the only way we felt comfortable granting her birthday request so we had to get what we are calling “Covid Creative.”

Now she’s got that little second earring right above the one she got when she was very, very young. It’s what she has been wanting for the last several months for this birthday, so….whew–he found a way.

Of course, he had to play a trick on her first. He made a very crude jewelry box with garish paintings on the top and a necklace made from a rusty chain and a wood disk with her name and other words on it and wrapped it elaborately. When she opened it, he told her she had asked for jewelry and a jewelry box. Then, he gave her the real gift which was out on the porch. She about died laughing.

I do think we are making memories that will last far beyond Covid19. It’s different. That’s for sure. But, at least she will have a story to tell her whole life long, about these unusual, strange, but sometimes wonderful, times.

24 thoughts on “Thriving In My thrifty Week–June 8, 2020”

    1. Thank you! I know the kids think so, too. Today, he’s got Jake (nephew), Michaela(niece) and Patsy(daughter) all on a drive. They are once again looking for trains. They went to a different area this time, and have seen 2 so far. But, let’s face it. Part of these excursions are about the ice cream. And, they had no trouble finding some of that!

  1. Happy birthday to Patsy!
    The jewelry box is beautiful, and what fun memories. I love your last sentence “unusual strange but sometimes wonderful times”. I’m sure it is a birthday she will always remember.
    And Rob is braver than I am to do the ear piercing. Looks great!

  2. Happy sweet 16!! Wow, that’s a milestone birthday for sure. Sounds like it was awesome. And the for-real jewelry box is amazing.
    Well done on the Tattler lids. They’re on my ‘buy list’, I just haven’t done it yet. My new to me plant is Gai Lan, a type of broccoli. Each stem makes a little brocolli like head. I’ve already harvested some and am waiting to see if the cut parts will regrow.
    I too am getting a small bowl of strawberries nearly every day. So far none have made it into the freezer, LOL. I am freezing the green tops of my radish. I want to experiment and make pesto with them when I have enough.

    1. I thought he did an amazing job on the jewelry box, too.

      I hope you broccoli grows. I often get lots and lots of side shoots after I pick the main head off my bushes..I wonder if yours will be like that. I hope so!

  3. Y’all are the best parents EVER!!!! Pierced her ear and handmade a jewelry box!!! WOW! Happy Birthday Patsy! What a story she’ll be able to tell of this wonderful time in her life!

    1. That ear piercing was all Rob–got to give credit where credit is due! I wasn’t brave enough…but I did weigh in on getting the earring in the right place–nothing like a group activity:).

  4. Happy Sweet Sixteen, Patsy! A birthday to remember, for sure!

    Look at all those jars of strawberry jam you made! Yum!

    I’ve a question about canning peaches – I thought you’d be the best person to ask, since you do so much canning. I’ve made peach jam and peach chutney, but, haven’t canned peaches in syrup, before. I don’t have a canner, but, I will do a water bath in a big pot. However, I don’t have any wide mouthed canning jars, only the regular pint sized jam jars. Have you canned peaches? Do you think that, if I slice the peaches, the jam jars would be fine? Thanks, Becky.

    1. I’ve canned many peaches in small-mouthed jars. First method: Quarter or chunk the peaches, can with syrup as usual. Second method: Slice the peaches right into the jar–works great for ones that stick to the pits a bit–then gently tap and press (don’t push and crush and break them up) until the jar is full to the top of the neck. Then, I either add some juice or a tiny bit of sugar water–it usually takes a tablespoon or two to cover the top, then can. That method works best with juicy peaches that are super sweet because you are basically canning them in their own juice. With a firmer, tarter peach, you can slice, pack loosely, then cover with a light syrup, then can as usual, but they will float up a bit done that way.

          1. I am canning the peaches from my tree – the first year it has produced peaches. I canned 6 jars, today, with syrup. Yes, the fruit is floating, but, that’s OK. Thank you, again, Becky. Just doing the 6 jars exhausted me! I don’t know how you do all the canning you do!

          2. I actually like the process of food preservation, and also really get excited about looking at the finished product. To me, there’s nothing like a row of sealed jars lined up on the counter or table:).

            I think my love of canning started when I was a child. I know it’s a lot of work, but my mom always made it seem like a party when there was a lot to do. Both of my grandmas would often pitch in when there were huge batches to do, such as when we would can 40-60 quarts of green beans in one day. My father would pick, us girls, Mom and the grandmas (whoever was there) would snap for hours and one of the ladies would make sure the jars were full and both pressure canners were always in use until the job was done. I can remember loading peach jars and pear jars at a very young age, and being told my little hands were just the thing to fill those jars….

            Then, when I was an adult, food preservation was a life-saver, especially when he decided to attend college as a married adult, with kids. From the beginning of our marriage, we were given piles upon piles of produce from friends and relatives and we u-picked or grew the rest. Even for the few short years when we lived 5 hours away from the family, Rob would drive up, fill thecae with peaches from the farm, and we would can them. Over the years, I grew to really enjoy that peaceful, quiet time at 5 or 6 am when I could just pick, can or freeze before all the kids got up and around, and again in the evenings when they were in bed. I hosted many a bean-snapping party of my own, with whoever could come. Rob often had to finish up the last canner load of my daily project at 10 or 11 at night, as I was exhausted…but so was he after working all day. Still, it was always worth it to both of us to have so much delicious, often organic, jars and packages where we knew every ingredient that had been placed into each one and to be able to feed all of our children the best food we could, while still staying on budget.

  5. Hi Becky,
    I have used large collard green leaves as a substitute for tortillas and made wraps. You put the leaf in simmering water for about 45 seconds and then take it out and pat it dry. It’s a wonderful gluten-free sandwich idea and low carb.

    1. Chris, that is an awesome idea and one I will be trying today. I have some very large collard leaves and was wondering what to do with them.

        1. I tried it and didn’t cook the leaves long enough. They were only wilted and were too chewy. I’m going to try it again and make sure they stay in the water longer. I rolled up leftover stirfry with some shredded cheese and made a casserole. It was good.

  6. That’s real dedication and love, with the ear piercing! Would you share what you fertilize your strawberries with? I’ve got lots of plants. All look healthy, but no berries. I like the Tattler lids, but after canning beans, and one spewed all over the ceiling and room after taking it out of the canner, I only use them for water bath canning. They’d done OK prior to that, but I don’t want to risk that mess again.

    1. I’ll watch it with the lids. One of the reasons I haven’t had the courage to try these lids is because of an experiment my mom did when we were kids in the 70’s–some kind of re-usable lid–beans blew up all over the kitchen–glass in the ceiling, etc. She still shudders when we talk about it–pretty scary with 3 little girls in the room! But, these seem to be better than those.

      I sprinkled bone meal on the berries early in the spring. I also have used some all-purpose organic fertilizer we were given several years ago–its granulated, and in a bag.

      I do notice that my strawberries yield best on the 2nd year after planting. The 3rd year is often good, too, but after that, for me, it goes downhill. So, I renew my beds often. Right now, Rob is preparing another wooden frame which we will clean out an unused area of grass by the camper, fill with dirt, and take the runners we get later in the summer from these existing bushes, and plant them in there. Already there are runners spilling over the sides of the existing frame, so I think there will be plenty. That will be for future production. I’m just getting the whole strawberry production going at this house. At my previous one, I was able to grow all that we could eat, by the time I was ready to move:(.

  7. I am so glad you tried the Tattler lids. There is a learning curve, I will agree. Once, my son was helping me in the kitchen and he turned the lids too tight. The jars all cracked in the canner and from then on, only I am allowed to do that job. However, they end up paying for themselves over time. I like using them for things I will be opening up soon, like soups. If it is something to be given away, I use the metal lids.

    1. I’ll be glad to get back to canning again after the next few busy days! I picked raspberries, strawberries and a very few Marion (black) berries this morning, and the beans are starting to bloom. I’ll just have time to get through Rob’s surgery and get him back on his feet and I’ll set him to snapping beans, lucky man:). He doesn’t have to walk to snap!

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