Feb 182017
 

making breakfast exciting again collage

We may not be trapped at home with feet of snow, though part of me really wishes we were, yet it is still winter and the perfect time for warm breakfast foods.

With a lot of changes to our routines coming up, again, I am looking for some quick yet easy things to add to our breakfast rotation on weekdays.  While I could literally eat the same thing for breakfast every day, my kids finally revolted.

Mom, enough.  Can we please have something else?

My kids tend to be carb lovers, yet burn enough calories to need protein with their meals. Especially with breakfast. I have chosen to find new recipes that hopefully lean toward more protein than carbs.

My boys can eat more than me, if they decide they actually like their food.  Actually, they could almost out eat me when they were only 3 or 4, and I am not exactly a light eater.  They are not necessarily picky eaters, but more along the lines of “we finally have a enough to eat that we can have foods we prefer to eat.”  And that is why I am wanting to put dwarf fruit trees in my next garden/yard, along with vegetables and root vegetables.

Having these on hand allows me to plan for some of the more expensive or not-normally-on-our-shopping-list items.  I doubt these can be made for $0.50 a person, which is where I like to keep most weekday breakfasts.  However, I might find I am wrong, which would be lovely.

A few of these would also be good as a sandwich version, made ahead and frozen for reheating.  Also, a few call for croissants*, which are not cheap but can be found on sale if you look for them.  *I am not talking about crescent rolls, though those are also in a few recipes.  They are similar but not the same.

While my husband we love to have croissants for breakfast, if you do not eat them in time they are not as nice.  Or so my husband says.  His palate is more in tune to that sort of thing.  You can also find older ones on discount at the grocery store.  I am thinking those would be good for some of these recipes, especially for those who will be soaked in eggs and milk.

Here are 10 recipes I plan to try out in the upcoming days:

  1. Egg Croissant Casserole Recipe
  2. Sausage McMuffin Casserole
  3. Cheesy Tat Tot Breakfast Bake
  4. Easy Cheesy Breakfast Casserole
  5. Overnight Mexican Breakfast Casserole
  6. Breakfast Enchilada Bake
  7. Spinach, Feta, and Artichoke Breakfast Bake
  8. Italian Breakfast Casserole
  9. Farmer’s Market Overnight Breakfast Egg Casserole
  10. Broccoli, Ham, Mozzarella Baked with Eggs
Dec 052016
 

This post contains affiliate links.

kids-garden-containers

When I was younger, think college, my plan was to work for a few years to gain experience.  After a few years, I would move back to the rural county I grew up in.  I grew up in the same county as 99% of my family.  My friends were from the same county as 99% of their family.  We used to joke that no one left the county; we all were born there and would live there till we died.  Yet, I did not mind that fact.  I liked knowing the history of the area, who used to farm where, the valley where my great great grandparents raised their family (their two room house was still there, along with the newspaper insulation and back porch kitchen), and the fact that the lakes now used for fishing and swimming were CCC projects during the Great Depression.

Yeah, it did not happen that way.  Something I had not planned on took place and changed all my plans.  I met a guy who brought me flowers and walked me home from my late night job, even when it was cold and snowing. A few months later he asked me to marry him.  And so the tour of growing zones began.

Contrary to my previously self-decided plans of living and working in the county where I grew up, we proceeded to live in 4 states over the first 6 years of our marriage.  We are now married over a decade and living in state #5.  Yup, very much not what was in my plan.

While moving has not gotten any easier or more fun, I have learned that each move brings about things I never would have considered.  Whether it is finding different ways to save money, becoming foster parents, starting this blog, working for one of the largest cities in the country, having a road side stand, or utilizing some of my minor talents to find work, I have been able to experience new opportunities and grow personally.  Several of the opportunities were things I would never dreamed of having tried had I stayed in the county where I grew up; the box I had put myself into was too comfortable.

Now that we have moved again.  I find myself asking what does this mean for various aspects of our lives?

For the blog

Not as many pictures of snow, for starters.  With a reduction in items vying for my attention, I hope to get to some of those posts that have been flying through my head.  I also want to focus on improving my writing and following through with what I start.

For my garden

It means that my gardening this upcoming year may be mainly in pots, or in places where it can double as landscape, or that we may find a house to buy and have a traditional garden.  Or we may find a house to buy and it comes with fruit trees and raised beds. (Yes, I did see one for sale as such and was instantly attracted to it … I do not remember much about the house itself. Imagine that.)

I am very thankful to my friend who offered to share blackberry starts with me once we get settled into a more permanent place than the rental house.  It is a good thing I shared my blackberry starts with her a few years ago.  I am also thankful for the time I invested learning about improving soils for my beds, both vegetable and flower.  Looking at the soils in our new area, it will come in very handy.

Our School Week collage

For the kids’ schooling

George will be starting a new school tomorrow.  The class sizes are smaller while the over all population of his elementary school is larger.  There is also a speech therapist who has been there for longer than a year, which is a great detail for a kid who has a motor speech disorder.  While I have my hesitations about starting over with a new school, I also have higher hopes for his progress here.

Jack will still be home schooled.  Different state, different laws, though thankfully I was able to find something that matched our beliefs and needs.  At first I bucked and groaned, overall throwing a HUGE internal tantrum. Then I sat down at the computer, after a few days… okay weeks, and did my research.  Now, I too have higher hopes for his progress here.

With me being able to give him more of my attention, we will not be taking December off as I had planned at the beginning of the school year.  Instead, we will slowly buckle down more and make up for lost time.  Why slowly?  Because it will be a change in routines and I would rather it be a pleasant experience rather than something that takes us another 5 months to recover from.

While we have been covering the basics of reading, arithmetic, and touching on other subjects here and there, we have not really been able to focus on them to the extent I have been wanting.  You know what, though?  I have noticed him still learning things we have not gotten to, making connections without me making any effort to lead him that direction, and his curiosity leading him to inquire and learn subjects which I thought he would buck at.

He has also improved upon how to appropriately entertain himself while bored.  If you do not think that skill is important, I encourage you to start paying attention to your day.  What do you do while:

  • sitting in traffic
  • waiting for someone to get to the car so you can leave
  • falling asleep at night
  • waiting for supper to cook or the waitress to bring your food
  • watching Kindergarten t-ball games
  • waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store
  • during that (sorry ministers) boring part of the sermon at church

These are things many of us naturally have learned to tolerate, finding something to keep our minds and/or hands busy.  These are things Jack greatly struggles with enduring. I have had to contentiously point out to him that these activities bore me also, and then share what I do to entertain myself.

There are also more outside the home activity options to take advantage of.  “Making friends” is still  the biggest reason he misses public school.  Apparently hanging with your mamma all day is not nearly as fun. 😉2 snowy seats and table

For other homemaking activities

For starters, we live closer than 30 minutes from more than one grocery store.  While I am going to miss one store in particular from our last home, it was actually in the country but was a source of huge savings, I am not going to miss sub-par produce from Small Town grocery.

Not only will be be closer to multiple grocery stores, the stores around here double coupons. :gasp:  It has been almost a decade since I lived near such stores.  While in Small Town, the closest store that doubled was 40 minutes away.  Not exactly a cost saving trip; it was often cheaper to stay in Small Town and shop the grocer there.

These past few months have shown me that the largest cost savings in the grocery category has been not shopping.  My husband and I both began making simpler meals and found we actually enjoyed it.  I hope to continue this activity to the reduction of our grocery shopping category.

Speaking of meals, my husband also works further from our house.  This means he will no longer be able to come home for lunches.  Jack suggests we find a home which would “make it possible for Daddy to come home for lunches again.”  We never took for granted the fact that living in Small Town and me not working outside the home meant we were close enough for my husband to have this benefit.  However, Jack does not remember it being any other way, and therefore did not know it was not ‘normal’.

With our current home being a rental house, I will not be focusing on decorating or painting or landscaping or any of those other activities that seems to have taken up a lot of my time these past few months years.  I will continue to use up, get rid of, or otherwise re-home items that we no longer need or love.

In addition to making our bed every morning, there are other habits which I plan to continue and hopefully build upon.  Keeping our kitchen counter clear of clutter has been something we have done well at these past few years.  In preparation of putting our home on the market, I took it a step further and cleared it as much as possible of other items.  Clean dishes were put away, only one spoon rest was left out, and the window sill was cleared of everything except one small plant.  The fruit bowl was left out, but the other small appliances and utensils were put away.

cleared off kitchen counters

When I first arrived at our rental house, my initial goal was to carry over the same counter clearing action for this kitchen.  This has been harder to do than I thought.  As soon as it gets cleared off, I find myself unpacking another box, doing a grocery shopping trip, or coming back from a long trip to visit family over Thanksgiving.  While I get items put away, new items without homes yet always seem to find their way onto the counter.

If I put off picking up the kitchen till after the kids are asleep, I find myself also falling asleep or with no energy to tackle this task.  The solution?  Try to stay home more. Too obvious?  Maybe, but it really does work.

We are back to cooking on an electric stove and non-convection oven.  I had to explain to the kids the differences with an electric stove, namely that the coils stay hot after they are turned off.

Cooking has also had a difference timing.  It takes things longer to boil, yet it keeps cooking once the heat is turned off.  I have not tried baking yet, as we still have muffins in the freezer.

purple flowers

While I can not ignore how things are different, it is up to me how I react to them.  There are a lot of changes, a lot of things I could dwell on as not being as good as it used to be.  Changes can be hard to adjust to.  It is easy to put on a pedestal the way things were.  However, taking this path only leads to discontentment, regret, and feeling depressed.

Choosing to keep how things were in the correct perspective, looking for the good in what is now around us, and finding ways to reach out to others rather than retreat into my shell will take me down a completely different path.  Just as I slowly found beauty in the flat corn fields surrounding us in Zone 5, I will eventually find some beauty here in Zone 7.  I may not like all the changes life is presenting to us right now, but I may grow to love them once I get over how they are not the same as they used to be.

Unit I reach that point, I will continue to challenge negative thoughts with lists of the good things I see happening.

Nov 222016
 

This post contains affiliate links to some ideas I thought you might enjoy.  

Originally posted in October of 2013, this post is an interesting look back in time, to see what my younger self was thinking and how things turned out.  For what it is worth:

  • we ended up with way too many beets that year, which lasted into the next, and the next …
  • the stairway no longer turns that direction and my concern over the poor condition of the walls ended up being a moot point
  • the wallpaper, well, lets just say I wanted to have words with the someone who decided to put up said wall paper.  It took many, many, late nights and early mornings to get it down
  • date nights never did get figured out
  • my husband is now graduated with his Master’s degree
  • and change still is not easy.

As we start the week of Thanksgiving, take some time to think back to changes which have happened either recently or in the past few years.  Were there people there to help you through it?  Drop them a note to share how you appreciate the effort they made.

Have you been able to help someone else through a season of change?  Is there someone whom you could bless with a meal, child care, a cup of warm beverage, or even by simply visiting and letting them talk?

Knowing you are not alone when it feels like everything around you is swirling can be a great help to get you grounded and back on the rails.

handful of money

Change is never an easy thing to face.  Even more so when you know a change is in the future but aren’t quite sure what it will look like.

At the beginning of the year I felt like I really needed to replenish our pantry supplies at home.  The need seemed unwarranted.  There was no reason why I felt this need.  Now, I think I knew that changes were coming and this was my way of having some control.

I focused on the pantry first, as that is something we use daily.  To start, I compared recipes of common dishes to how often we used them.  I then multiplied the amount of ingredients needed by the number of time we would eat that dish.  For example, tangy black bean soup uses 1-15 oz can of diced tomatoes per batch.  If I were to substitute crushed tomatoes for diced, then I would need 1 pint per batch.  We make this recipe about once per month = 1  pint x 12 = 12 pints of crushed tomatoes needed.

Once that recipe was done, I worked through others.  The point was not to obtain an exact number, but a rough estimate.

22 quarts canned beets

After having the list for set up, I turned to other areas.  Clothing for example.  One child went through three sizes in shoes within almost as many months last winter.  I had to go buy new shoes because I couldn’t find them fast enough to cloth the kid.  That is something I don’t want to do again.

Before the garage sale season started, I sorted through their clothes to see what was needed in which sizes.  I made a list that looked something like this:

Size 7

Good t-shirts  __  __  __

Dress pants __

PJ set __

Shorts __ __ __ __ __

I did a list for each size.  The “___” stands for the number I needed of that item.  As I found something to fit that category in that size, I put a check mark on the blank.  The list stayed in my wallet all summer and made garage sale shopping so much easier as I knew exactly what I was looking for.  Several times it was tempting to leave the list for that really nice looking Size 7 pair of jeans.  Then I would refer to the list, see that I had enough (otherwise it would have been on the list) and remind myself to move on..

My goal for clothing wasn’t to have extensive wardrobes for each size.  It as to have enough so that if a growing spurt caught me by surprise again, there would be a few outfits to fit said child until I could go do more shopping.

clearance finds clothes 2

While my life and house are by no means perfect in these areas, I feel we are on track.  We are for sure in a better place than this time last year.  I’ve also achieved or exceeded several of my yearly goals in this area and am on my way to achieving the rest.  While this makes me feel better – we have a cushion – I still don’t know what it will look like.

As it turns out, preparing wasn’t such a bad idea.  In the past few months I have finally started to see why it is that things needed to be in order.

So what are the changes ahead of us?

  • Husband going back to school for a graduate degree (He will keep working and go to night classes.)
  • Finalization of adoption of foster kids – this has been underway for a long time and I’m just ready for it to be over.  It will still take a few months.

Only two changes?  Yes, only two.  However, they will both affect our lives in large ways.  With my husband going to classes a few nights a week, and studying after bedtimes the other nights, the limited time during the day the kids have to see Dad will be decreased even more.  Meaning that weekends will be more important.  Date nights will also have to become routine, to help us stay connected and on the same page.  It also means that I will play a larger role on those night when my husband isn’t home.  I’m thinking of actually adding something to our schedules those nights to help them not notice his absence as much.  At least at first as change can be hard for them.

The finalization of the adoption would actually give our schedule more room.  We would no longer have visits with case workers or other required visits every month.  There won’t be paperwork to fill our or additional rules to follow.  We can just … be.  Be a family.  Be on our own schedule.  Be able to travel without having to tell the world. Be _______.  I want to be able to enjoy that time by not having as many responsibilities.  If that is possible.

We are also planning on keeping our foster care license open after the adoption, though we aren’t sure if we will be ready to add more children to our home at that time.  It takes a lot of energy and brings a lot of change.  Not always bad things, but it is better not to be caught off guard if you do decide to say “Yes” to one of the calls.  My husband will also be starting classes and studying in the evenings.  We’ll have to see how life is going at that time.

stairway walls spackled

I am also planning to remove wall paper and paint a room in our house, as well as a stairway.  This will be my winter project – something you can do even if it is snowing outside.  Last year it was the bathroom, this year the bedroom.  Again, it would be nice to have suppers in the freezer rather than  having to stop and make something every day/night.

Changes are a part of life.  Some seasons have more than others.  Some changes are harder to handle, while others are welcomed easily.  In the end, none of us really know what the future holds.  We can only do our best today and trust God to take care of the rest.

How do you handle change in life?  Do you internalize it or find a way to let our the emotions connected to it?  

 

Nov 202016
 

The upcoming week holds a lot of activity away from our normal routine. Due to irregular computer times, visiting with family, and other family related priorities, I will be reposting some things from the past.

While you still have a few days to gather ingredients, and potentially even create a meal plan, here are some healthy ingredient swaps you can use in more traditional recipes.

Still not sure what to be thankful for?  How about being thankful you are not a pilgrim woman at that first thanksgiving. Cooking for 140 people? Yikes!

Pilgrim Women Thanksgiving

I recently received an email from Abe’s Market, in which they shared an article that talked about ways to make your Thanksgiving a bit healthier.  They had a few ideas I had never thought of – using coconut oil and cinnamon to make your sweet potatoes instead of brown sugar and marshmallows, for example.

Here is a copy of the article for you (with permission), my readers, so you too can see if there may be some changes you can make to your menu.

5 HEALTHY THANKSGIVING INGREDIENT SWAPS

Thanksgiving should be a time of gratitude, family, friends and good times, not food comas and bloated bellies. If you make an effort to eat well everyday, you don’t have to throw your healthy habits out the window on Thanksgiving. Instead, clean up your favorite holiday meals with these healthy Thanksgiving swaps. We’re not saying go full-on tofurkey, but by choosing better-for-you ingredients, you can make the holiday healthier for you and your loved ones.

Traditional: Stuffing & White Rice
HealthyQuinoa or Sprouted Grains
Stuffing gets an easy, healthier upgrade when made with quinoa or sprouted grains like brown or wild rice. Quinoa is a protein- and fiber-rich pseudograin, so it’s a great choice for any veg guests.

TraditionalCandied Sweet Potatoes & Marshmallows
HealthyBaked Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Oil & Cinnamon
If you’ve ever baked, steamed or roasted a sweet potato, you know this healthy root veg is plenty sweet without marshmallows and added sugar. Try dressing your sweet potato side dish with coconut oil and cinnamon. Coconut oil provides beneficial fats that your body can more easily metabolize, which means you’ll less likely feel like you need a post-meal nap. Cinnamon is a superfood in its own right: It’s loaded with antioxidants and helps balance blood sugar levels. Simply bake sweet potatoes and swipe with coconut oil and a dash of cinnamon before serving.

TraditionalCanned Cranberry Sauce
HealthyNatural Cranberries, Chutney, Jams, Spreads
Chutney, jams, spreads … canned cranberry has a lot of competition and the other options tend to be lower in sugar and sodium. Not to mention real cranberries are loaded with vitamin C, manganese and fiber. If your friends and family are open to the exotic, try this chipotle cranberry orange relish. For a more traditional cranberry, go with this cranberry sauce with port. Can the canned cran … it likely contains BPA, too.

TraditionalWhite & Refined Baking Flours
HealthyWhole Wheat, Gluten Free & Sprouted Flours
We admit that going from white flours to gluten-free, sprouted or whole grain flours can change the consistency of texture of certain types of desserts, so you may need to whip up your favorite holiday dessert before the big day to make sure you get it right. Taking this extra step pays off big when you can serve your loved ones a better-for-you dessert.

TraditionalFats & Sugar
HealthyUnsweetened Applesauce
Did you know you could replace sugar and butter in recipes with unsweetened applesauce? Use a cup of applesauce for every cup of sugar called for in a recipe (just be sure to reduce the amount of liquid by ¼ cup) to reduce sugar levels and cut calories. It also makes desserts nice and moist. Unsweetened applesauce also works for replacing fats in sweet treats. Try ½ cup of applesauce and ½ cup of fat for every 1 cup of fat (butter, oil, etc.) in the recipe.

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Jun 222016
 

IMG_20151101_115037552[1]

At times I envied the owners of Downton Abby.  Yes, it is a fictional show, but who would not like to have others cook and clean for you, take care of your gardens and drive you around.  I could do without all the drama in life, but the rest sounds pretty good.

Taking step back and updating several of those roles into today’s terms, I realized that I have it better than I thought.  Yes, I may still have to put on my own clothes and actually do some work, but there are actually several “maids” employed in out home which make life easier.

breakfast collage bacon eggs hashbrowns coffee

This morning I woke up early thanks to my Lady’s Maid (the clock) letting me know the morning hour had come.  A child had shown up just after 5 a.m. with their own blanket in tow, wanting to lay on the floor next to our bed.  It was too cute to turn away, but meant I had to begin the day not in my proper attire.

Once I got the Scutlery Maid (dishwasher) underway, I moved on to motivate the Laundry Maid (washer and dryer) into finishing their duties.  With those two busy performing their duties, I was free to sit and write to some acquaintances for a bit (posting on the blog).

Once the correspondences are finished I will go over the menu with the Kitchen Maids (oven and slow cooker).  If all goes well we will be set for a nice, lazy, rainy day here at home.

vaccum

On a sadder note, I had to let one of my chamber maids (vaccum cleaner) go this past week.  There have been issues in the past, but we had tried to work around our differences; it looked like we were making headway in coming to an understanding.  Unfortunately, it was not working out.  Smoking in the house is unacceptable and will not be tolerate.  This is one of the less desirable aspects of being the Lady of the house.

In addition to being down one chamber maid, I am also down one gardener (weed eater) as he decided to up and quit with no notice a few weeks back.  I am anticipating employing a new one in about two weeks and look forward to seeing the results of their work.

Life can be tedious when one has to manage a household, but we do the work in the roll to which we were placed.  For now, I am going to see what is keeping the coffee so long.  I believe the Under Kitchen Maid (coffee maker) was not woken up on time.

Apr 032016
 

seeds beginning 2014 garden season

One idea to reduce your grocery bill that I commonly hear, after coupons and shopping sales and eating left overs, is to plant a garden.  While they are correct in a garden can be cheaper than going to the grocery store to buy the same items, it doesn’t mean gardening is always cheap.  It can easily cost a pretty penny, especially if you are just starting out.  Planning ahead and being aware of what you are spending, what you need and having realistic goals can save you quite a bit over a season, or 2 or 5.

Gardening can be done with very little money.  It can. However, it takes time and effort.

Mar 172016
 


3/17-3/20 craft supplies will be on sale at Craftsy.  No getting dressed or wasting time driving in the car.  Go online and do all your craft shopping while you are thinking about it.

Craftsy carries a wide variety of craft supplies for almost every sort of craft you may be looking to accomplish:

  • fabric
  • yarn
  • art
  • drawing
  • painting
  • baking
  • cooking
  • cake decorating
  • scrapbooking
  • stamping
  • sewing
  • photography
  • knitting
  • quilting
  • woodworking
  • gardening
  • home decor
  • gifts
  • and more.

 

Craftsy

Mar 122016
 


Did you register for one of Craftsy’s class bundles currently on sale and now need supplies?  Or perhaps you are planning something to celebrate the start of spring but find you are needing some more items.  3/17-3/20 craft supplies will be on sale at Craftsy.

Craftsy carries a wide variety of craft supplies for almost every sort of craft you may be looking to accomplish:

  • fabric
  • yarn
  • art
  • drawing
  • painting
  • baking
  • cooking
  • cake decorating
  • scrapbooking
  • stamping
  • sewing
  • photography
  • knitting
  • quilting
  • woodworking
  • gardening
  • home decor
  • gifts
  • and more.

 

Craftsy

Mar 102016
 

This post contains affiliate links.  When you click through and purchase something, a small portion comes back to support this blog at not added cost to you.  If you wish to not go through an affiliate link, you are free to go directly to their website.  Thank you for your support.

Ever want to learn a new craft? How about improve upon on you already know?  Try that a new technique to add extra oomph to a project of yours?  Well, it is your lucky day.  Craftsy is having an Online DIY Class Bundle Sale.  Class bundles are groupings of online Craftsy classes curated by experts for the most efficient and comprehensive creative learning journey. There are online videos you can watch anytime, anywhere with unlimited lifetime access to your collection. Craftsy’s online class bundles will be on deeper discount between 3/11-3/13.

The great thing about these classes is no traveling, your access never expires, and there is a 100% money back guarantee.

Last year I went through a mini course on landscaping.  Inspired by what I was learning, I decided to tackle my front yard and turn it into a shade garden.  It was a large project, at a time when I had other large projects also going on, but was made immensely easier by the encouragement from the course.

There are over 100 Class Collections on Craftsy’s website, enough to cover a very wide range of topics.  The graphic above gives you a small sampling of what you will find.  If you have been looking for something new or challenging, now would be a great time to register.  Then, as you have free time or during a rainy weekend you can work your way through the lessons.  You may find a new love of your life.

With the wide variety of topics available, if you could choose one to attend, which would it be?

 

Mar 032016
 

jars of crushed tomatoes 4

Canning during the spring season is not what usually comes to mind when I think of filling the pantry with beautiful results of gardening labor. However, that is where I am starting this year.

Goal #1 Use up all my current canned goods. After taking a canning hiatus last year, I find myself still with an abundance of filled jars.  Some I have no worries about them being used up soon (beets), others I know are going to take more deliberate planning (green tomato pie filling).

Why not plan to use them throughout the year? Some, like beets, I will. Others, though, have a 2013 date on them. While still good, their quality is in decline; they need to be used soon.

The corn has found a home in a cornbread recipe. The plan is to make muffins and freeze them.

The crushed tomatoes will be used in chili.  I was surprised to find howcmanybof these we actually used.  If they are still hanging around I will puree them to use while cooking rice.

The tomato sauce, my earliest try at spaghetti sauce, is runny and unflavored.  It is currently being used when I cook rice, and will continue to be used as such.

The pickled beets will be eaten as sides. After not having beets for years, I went a bit overboard while canning. Turns out that we do not eat a quart twice a week all tear long.  I may start using these to make Harvard beets some meals.

The pearbutter will be dumped unless there is a redeeming recipe somewhere. It would have turned out okay except it needed more sugar. Lots more sugar.

The other jams I will continue to open and use. The only store bought jam we have is apricot jam, which my husband likes but of which I have none.

With our maple syrup supply running low, placing a jar of fruit syrup in the fridge next to the maple syrup would go a long way toward helping me remember we have them. These were failed jelly and jam attempts.

I also have a few loners hanging out in the pantry -a jar of relish, some peppers, a tomato soup combination – these will be moved next to similar items and added to the meal preparations.  Our next pizza meal will have banana peppers on it. Yum!

Farm Market Swap 2015 collage

Goal #2 Try some no garden related canning recipes. Last fall, my friend shared a jar of Thai Dipping Sauce she had canned. It was delicious and required no fresh garden products. It is one example of a canning recipe that can be done any time of the year.

Tubs and crate of canning jars

Goal #3 Gather and sort all empty canning jars. When filled it is easy to keep similar sized jars together. As jars get emptied, though, I find there is a glitch in my method. Most are in bins and boxes, but enough are in bags, on my work bench and next to toys on shelves in the basement to get the feeling of being surrounded by wayward jars.

How do you approach the start of the next canning season if you still have jars of goods left over from past years?  Any particular recipes you use?