Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Summer Days

Rain . . . heat . . . busyness . . . laughter . . . canning . . . sunshine . . . family . . . friends . . . music . . . work . . . all ingredients filling up our summer days. They have been so full that time has been flying by, and it is hard to believe it is already August!

We have a lot of sunflowers this year. I love their bright, sunny blooms!

~ Making and Canning Salsa ~

Salsa . . . one of our favorite things to have canned, yet one of our least favorite to can. :) It's pretty labor-intensive with all the chopping that needs to be done in preparation. We have a handy hand-powered gadget that chops the peppers and onions into small pieces which makes that part go faster, but the tomatoes take quite awhile. It's still fun, though!

Leah and I enjoyed making it together one day last week, and the end result was 14 pints . . . .

Onions chopped with fresh cilantro on top (underneath were chopped green peppers and jalapeno peppers.) 

Jars and lids washed and ready to go 

All ready to start being simmered before canning

14 pints of Zesty Salsa!

And now I'm not the only canner in the family :) . . . last week, Leah canned the tomato sauce start to finish! She and Mom ran the tomatoes through the food strainer; the pulp/juice was cooked down; I helped her a bit to get started with the canning; and then she did the rest from there . . . .

29 halfpints of tomato sauce, and we'll be doing another batch soon (can you see the tomatoes in the background? They're immature tomato sauce. :)

Leah running the aforementioned tomatoes through the food strainer today . . . more tomato sauce is being made and we'll be canning it this evening (it's cooking down now.)

~ Sewing a Doll ~

With my Niobrara Farms Bath and Body business growing, I rarely make cloth dolls anymore as they are quite time consuming. Though someone contacted me the week before last and asked if I could make a special order one and shared the story as to why. I had a doll nearly done, so finished this one for her . . . .

It was special sewing it knowing who it was for and why it was being made!

~ Beekeeping ~

The busy beekeeper - and yes, he's so comfortable with the bees now and rarely gets stung, and when he does, rarely reacts to the stings, so he works the bees in short sleeves with only a veil!

All the work in the apiary has been keeping Dad pretty busy. Building equipment, inspecting hives, splitting and making new ones, etc. He's now up to 17 colonies (which includes both honey-producing hives and nucleus colonies.) He has researched, studied, and learned so much this year, and it is exciting to see how it's been playing out with the hives!

~ This and That ~

 Our potatoes aren't ready to dig for storage yet, but they are ready for fresh-eating, so I dug some one evening in order to have baked potatoes with our dinner. So nice to have our own potatoes again! The store ones just can't compare.

Laundry drying on the line with another load ready to be hung up

 Leah and Mom doing a puzzle on a rainy, Sunday afternoon - they love puzzles! This was one that Leah had given Mom for her birthday . . . a beautiful farm scene.

Stopping for smiles

 The does and their kids lounging in the hoop house on a hot afternoon

Our buck Rimrock . . . he's kind of like a big teddy bear :)

Prairie being photogenic for half a second before she ran over to me - in fact, she was already in progress when this photo was snapped. :)

 The abundant wildflowers are always such a treat . . . Growing in the wild, growing in our gardens, cut for bouquets and brought indoors . . . their cheery, colorful blooms are always so nice to see.

Speaking of cutting flowers . . . .

Cutting some Echinacea (or coneflowers) that bloom along our driveway 

Pausing for a photo 

A little, jumbled up bouquet ready to be brought indoors, arranged, and put in water

Lemon yellow squash . . . we have had so many of these this year! We've been giving lots away, and our goats have been enjoying them as well. And of course, we have been, too. :)

One of our new peach trees . . . it has grown a lot this year! 

Watching the birds coming to the feeders while washing dishes is always enjoyable - this is a Tufted Titmouse here, ready to carry off its snack of a sunflower seed.

 Playing the piano one afternoon . . . how I love sitting here playing (and oftentimes singing) to the Lord

"In Christ alone, my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

"What heights of love,
What depths of peace,
When fears are stilled,
When strivings cease!
My Comforter, My All in All,
Here in the love of Christ, I stand."


  1. That is one of my favourite songs Sarah, and it is lovely to imagine you playing it.
    How pretty your Sunflowers are, they remind me so much of the fields in South West France, which were golden with flowers.

    1. It's one of mine, too, Elizabeth. :)

      The fields you describe sound lovely! There are a couple of sunflower fields nearby, and I always love seeing them.

  2. What lovely summer days! Your salsa looks fabulous. Maybe sometime you would share your recipe? : ) I would be curious to see your "handy hand-powered gadget".

    1. They have been, Sarah! I would be happy to share the salsa recipe! Watch for it in an upcoming post. :) (And I'll try to get a photo of our "handy hand-powered gadget" for you to see, too.)

  3. The salsa looks great, Sarah, and Prairie sure is a cutie. Lovely photos you've shared of your busy summer days. I love the song ~ one of my favorites.
    Enjoy your weekend ♥

    1. Thank you, Anne! I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. :) The song is one of my favorites, too!

      I hope you enjoy your weekend as well! It's going to be a cooler one here in Missouri which I am sure you'll be appreciating, too!

  4. Hi Sarah, Christ Alone is one of my favourite songs. I was wondering if you still make cloth dolls or not anymore more. Glad to see that you still do it once in a while and posted a picture. That doll is so pretty! Last week, I just started to make/sew my first cloth doll. It's still going. I'm making the first doll for myself in case I made any mistakes and can't give that doll to someone. I am hoping that I will love making dolls and want to do it for others like you did. Still too early to tell if making dolls will be my passion or not. You're so beautiful standing by the bush with flower in your hand.

    1. It was good to hear from you again, Leah! That is wonderful that Christ Alone is one of your favorite songs as well. It is beautiful!

      Yes, I do still make dolls occasionally. How exciting that you are making a doll for the first time! I hope it goes really well for you. I am sure it will be adorable! And that would be so nice if you were able to make dolls for others, too!

      Thank you for your sweet comment. :)

  5. Thank you for sharing your summer. Your photos are excellent and I really like the doll you made. Are the ducks on your piano carved from wood?

    1. You're welcome, Carol! I'm glad you enjoyed it. And thank you for your kind words!

      Yes, the ducks on the piano are carved from wood. My Dad made those many years ago. He is really talented!

  6. I am convinced more than ever that you have given up sleeping, Sarah!:-) I am always impressed at your productivity. You certainly make the most of your time!

    It is nice to see your family all working together throughout the day to keep your little homestead thriving and growing. And it certainly has grown over the years! Are you fully self-sufficient now? I remember that was one of your desires.


    1. Your comment made me laugh (and smile :), Betsy! Thank you for it.

      I haven't quite given up sleeping. ;) We have had some quite busy and productive days lately, though! It's so nice to be able to work together like this.

      No, we are far from being fully self-sufficient, but we are thankful for the progress we have made so far. We do eat a lot of our own homegrown food which is a blessing!

  7. Slender, tanned arms that work so hard ~ that is what I see here! Many lovely things being made/ looked after. Love the pic of the goats sweet faces!
    The hymn is one of my all-time favourites :)

    1. Thanks so much for your sweet comment, Alex! That hymn is one of my favorites, too. The words are so powerful and beautiful!

  8. Hi Sarah
    Do you sterilize your jars or wash them in hot soapy water? I have canned a few times and was successful but i want to do a big batch of salsa. Thoughts?
    TY, Barb in Pennsylvania

    1. Hello Barb! As long as the jars will be processed in the canner for longer than 10 minutes, you do not need to sterilize the jars. So when I make salsa, yes, I just wash them in hot soapy water. Then I place them in the raised canner rack with the water at a simmer to heat them up before filling them.

      That's great that you've had successful canning experiences! Salsa is fun to make and outside of all the chopping, isn't hard. I hope it goes well for you! And if you have any more questions, please feel free to ask. I would be happy to help if I can!


Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)