There are many signs around me that summer is here:
blossoming flowers, bees buzzing about, daily trips to the park with the girls.
But do you want to know what the real sign that winter is over in our household??
Empty canning bottles.
Yup, it's true. In our home, empty canning bottles is a telltale sign that winter is really over.
The Pacific Northwest summers offer a plethora of fruits and vegetables and I just can't help but to can them for the winter. The empty jars in the above picture were once home to peaches, pears, applesauce, merlot grape juice, jellies and jams, and tomato soup. Now they're just waiting for me to fill 'em back up this summer!
Sure, I could run to the store and load our pantry up with these yummy fruits and veggies but I just can't do that.
I love canning too much.
There is something just so satisfying about it.
Perhaps the satisfaction comes from knowing I'm carrying on a tradition that my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother did for their family.
Maybe it's because I love being a part of the whole preserving process--I know exactly where my food is coming from...or maybe it's because ya just can't beat the taste of hand-picked fruits and veggies.
Here are a few pictures of the peaches I canned last year.
I can't wait to can more in a couple months!!
Ahhh, yeah...I cannot wait.
If you're interested in taking up the art of preserving your own food this year, there are many online sources to help get you started like here or here.
Is it easy? Yes. But make sure you follow the instructions precisely.
Also, if you want to save a few bucks, visit your local thrift store to find supplies such as a canner and canning bottles.
(please note: if you do purchase bottles from a second-hand store make sure the tops of the bottles do not have any cracks or chips, as this will prevent the lid from creating a seal...now, that wouldn't be good, would it?!?)
That's right. My parents backyard is one luscious garden, and oh, how I love it!
I feel like my Mom is everywhere back there, after all, she is the one that designed the layout of it, and Dad helped make it happen. She was definitely a woman who overflowed with creativity.
The building shown below is her pottery studio.
I fear that climbing hydrangea is going to take over the entire structure if we don't trim it back soon.
To the left of the studio hangs the most relaxing hammock in the world. Napping in it is a true treat.
This little area is the home to not only different varieties of succulents, but also to many of the defected little items that we've made over the years; sunfaces with broken rays, frogs with dribbled glaze, broken dishes, etc. (A great way to recycle art!)
It's one of my favorite locations in the backyard.
It's also the home to many little sunfaces made by a local Portland artist.
Meet St. Isidore, the Patron Saint of Gardeners. Mom sculpted him years ago.
Here's a chubby little cherub basking in the sun. Dad welded the wings onto her back.
This little sunface is puckering up for a kiss (a Valentine's Day gift for my Daddy-O from Mom).
One of her many garden totems.
A cool little lady chillin' among some mint.
Here's the right-hand side of their backyard, where Aaron and I had our wedding reception almost 6 years ago! It's also where Aaron proposed to me, and where we first kissed! (That sounds a little funny--don't worry, we kissed long before he proposed to me. he he) How scandalous...
I'll show pictures of this portion of the yard sometime in the future.
My little girls just woke up and it's time for us to go outside in our own backyard for reading time.
We just spent three fabulous days with my family in Canby, Oregon. I would have posted this earlier, but I think I'm still recuperating from our many activities. My brother, Lane, and his wife, Ashley, are living with my Dad for the summer before they head back to school in the fall...We are thrilled to have them closer to us!
To kick the weekend off Avery rode Papa's mule around the pasture a few times:
Then it was Clara's turn! Her first time on a saddle!
She loved every minute of it, which was very surprising to me. I thought for sure she'd start crying the moment she got on him.
(Don't worry--my Dad is holding her from the side. Sheesh! What kind of parent do you think I am??) :)
We then treated ourselves to the first ripe strawberries from the garden. I can't believe how yummy they were.
That evening we took the girls on their very first fishing trip. Notice Avery's pink princess fishing pole? Lucky girl.
Unfortunately, we didn't experience much luck in our boat, but Lane was catching the darn fish left and right! Avery yelled across the pond to him, "Uncle Lane, why are you catching all the fish? Leave some for us!" We decided it would be best for her to hop into their boat in hopes she'd be able to catch a fish before the night ended.
And she did!
In the picture below Uncle Lane is helping her reel in her first fish...(small picture of them, I know, but at least I captured it!)
That large-mouth bass was quite the catch!
Before the weekend ended Avery, Clara, and I planted squash in Dad's garden.
Check out the darling strawberry dress Avery's wearing. Don't you wish your little girl had one? You can find them here. It even has a little apron sewed to it. Lillian from 3 lil muses offers the best quality handmade dresses and skirts in the cutest prints!
Here are a couple different angles of the garden:
The row of large plants on the right are raspberries, and the boxed plants on the left are strawberries. Apple, plum, and pear trees are in the back.
Here's a picture of Ashley and Clara in my parents' backyard. I'll show more pictures of it in the next post.
I feel so blessed to have spent this special 3-day weekend with such wonderful and loving family. I enjoyed getting to know my new sis-in-law better...she's a perfect addition to our family!
Lane sure is lucky!
I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable weekend, too.
I feel grateful to live in this great nation, and would like to express my gratitude to all those who have served our country and to all the families who have lost loved ones fighting for it.
My blogger friend, Dionne, recently hosted a Springtime Swap for all her blogging pals. I was lucky enough to get paired up with Anna, from Sweden. :) It has been a joy getting to know her through our many correspondences...Look what I received from her!
(I love stamps from other countries!)
Everything was wrapped so beautifully.
Pretty cool card, huh?!
Check it out--She chose a Spring Garden theme since she knows I love to garden...fun apple coasters, colorful boxes to plant vegetable starts, a magnet, and the neatest gift of all...
A "matchstick garden" of vegetable seeds!
This just might be the coolest thing my eyes have seen!
Thank you, Anna!! I love my gifts, and most of all, I have enjoyed getting to know you--I feel like I can now say I have a friend in Sweden!
p.s. In a couple months Dionne will be hosting a Summer Swap that I can't wait for...yahoo!
Sometimes you just gotta let your kids play in the dirt.
Since our latest move, I've met a really cool girl named Rebekah. Last week my washing machine went kaput and she let me come over to wash a load at her house. While there she provided a wonderful project for the girls...they planted vegetable seeds! Rebekah earned her degree in horticulture and is all about growing her own vegetable starts. I think that's so cool.
Here's Avery planting away...
This is Rebekah's little cutie.
Look at the vegetable plants now!! All this growth was accomplished in a little over a week. Isn't nature amazing?
Here's a BIG THANK YOU to Rebekah!!
Who will be planting a garden this year? What will you be planting??