A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Be nice. Just do it.

I bought a new sewing machine almost two years ago.  I bought it from a Viking dealer within a Jo-Ann Fabric Store and it was a nice enough machine that it came with two classes to teach me how to use it.  After my first class (January 2012), I was waiting near the door for S to pick me up when I overheard a young man asking about Mason jars.  Anyone who knows me, knows this perks my ears up. I heard the associate tell him that they did not sell single jars (they do now, but did not at the time), and that he could go to Wal-Mart to buy a case. He explained that he needed only one, to which she replied that she could not help him.

Me, being me, I walked over and offered to help. I called Shane and asked him to check the trunk of the car for a quart jar before he came in to get me and my sewing machine. I know it sounds silly, but there is always a chance there are jars in my car.  On this occasion, there was not.

The fun part of the story is WHY this young man wanted the jar...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Spreading The Love - Blueberry (Wedded) Bliss

I received a call a few weeks ago from a very nice young lady who had purchased some jams and jellies from me (my side "job" as Earthly Grace Preserves) at the farm stand last summer. She thought of me as she was planning her sister's bridal shower. The bride had selected blue and white as her colors, and she hoped I could make some blueberry favors for her to hand out to her guests. We put our heads together and decided on two flavors for the guests to choose from: Blueberry and Blueberry Basil. I offered to include the decoration and labeling to eliminate some work for her as well. Once the details were arranged, I went to work.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I entered the fair with a few things... here's what happened.

I decided it would be fun to enter some canned goods into the fair and see how I could do against some locals. I immediately learned that the judges do not taste the product and that items are therefore judged by appearance. For most items, this means headspace, consistency, color, etc. Essentially, they are really looking at the "art of canning."

I labeled my entries with the required information: Item Name, Process used for canning (Water bath or pressure), Time processed, Date Canned.  Entries must have been canned since the last fair to be considered.

Jams and Jellies are expected to be plain and combination flavors (like my blueberry basil, chipotle peach, strawberries and cream, etc.) are only accepted in the "Any Other" class. You are allowed one entry per class.

There are 9 sections offered: Fruits, Jellies, Jams, Preserves, Vegetable, Juices, Relishes, Pickles and Meats. I entered 7 of those, omitting Preserves and Pickles, this time. ;-)

I dropped off 23 entries the night before judging and went home to try to sleep. I had taken the next day off work to spend at the fair with a great friend and was eager to see the results.

Here are my results: