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Lessons Learned From Canning Tomatoes

Tomato crop

This was only half of the tomato crop that I got to deal with this past Saturday. About a week before that I had mentioned to Dominic that we really needed to get out and pick our tomatoes, so he did just that and then they sat on my kitchen counter mocking me for a week.

Did you know that tomatoes can mock?? They do, I have seen it first hand! 😉

I knew that if I didn’t do something with them on Saturday they would spoil. Initially I thought that I would make homemade spaghetti sauce and bought all of the ingredients at the store to do so, but when I got home our internet was down (and stayed down for 2 days!!) and searching  for a recipe on my phone proved difficult. And as a side note….what I could read on my phone was conflicting regarding the safety of canning spaghetti sauce because of the acidity levels etc….can anyone confirm/deny that?? I would still like to do it if it is safe!

Anyways, back to my afternoon. I started at about 1pm, getting everything set up so I could blanche and peel the tomatoes first. It proved to be a BIG job. BIG. I spent almost 4 hours doing that alone.

4 hours people. 4 hours.

Typically this is something that Dominic and I would do together, one of us doing the blanching part and the other doing the peeling. But after the crazy-busy week we had and Dominic on the road for 2 days, he had to be in the office getting work done so that we could deal with the week ahead.

And so I went at it alone.

Meanwhile my kids were acting a little crazy, and I was getting increasingly more tired and more irritated at how long this was taking.

Once the tomatoes were all dealt with it was time to cook everything down.

tomatoes boiling

This too takes time, and it wasn’t like I could just leave it and do other things. In this case a non-watched pot will boil over and scorch. So I was constantly there, watching and stiring.

Then comes the canning process itself. I do the hot jar, self seal method…because I don’t have a pressure cooker. So I make sure the tomatoes have boiled for a long time, then add them to the hot jars, as the jars cool they self seal!

Because I was working alone I could only do 2 jars at a time. I ended up with 36 quarts. Just the canning was time consuming!

By this point my kitchen was a mess. Half my sink loaded with the days dirty dishes, unable to be loaded into the dishwasher because I was using it for the jars. The kids were tired and crabby and a barking dog didn’t help my increasing stress level.

I.HAD.JUST.ABOUT.ENOUGH.

I could feel the grumble come on fast.

Why wasn’t he here helping me?

How could it be taking him so long at the office?

Why do I always get stuck doing these hard jobs?

And then I stopped in my tracks.

I KNEW what was happening. The enemy was on attack, and at my most tired, weakest moment I was giving in.

So what does one do in a moment like this?

I talked myself down off the ledge. Yep, I admit I was talking out loud to myself in the kitchen. Call me crazy, but saying truth out loud in that moment was exactly what I needed to be doing!

So I replaced the lies with the truth.

Dominic is working hard FOR US!

He would rather be here helping, he had even said that this morning, but he needed to get work done so that this coming week was half-way manageable.

The hard work was worth it and I would be grateful for all of it come this winter when I needed fresh tomatoes!

And at that moment my perspective changed. 

Yes it was almost 10pm. Yes I had been standing and working for almost 9 hours straight. But this was MY CHOICE! I wanted to plant the tomatoes. I wanted to do the canning. Regardless of how my situation turned out on Saturday, this was my choice and I was going to choose to be grateful for it.

And then I heard it.

Pop!

If you haven’t ever done canning, you may not know the sound. But it was beautiful to me at that moment.

And I shouted “Praise Jesus”!

Elijah happened to wander back in just at that moment and asked me what was going on. So I told him that I was praising God for every lid that sealed. That I was grateful my hard work was paying off, and God deserved the glory.

Pop…Praise Jesus!

Pop…Praise Jesus!

It went on for about an hour. The kitchen was all cleaned up at this point and I finally had a moment to rest. But with each Pop, I would Praise Jesus.

It is hard to be crabby when you are praising God! (<====Click to Tweet)

tomatoes finished

I don’t know what “job” you face this week. Maybe it is time at an office that is the last place you want to be. Maybe it is the throws of motherhood that has you worn and harried. Take some advice from someone who has learned these lessons the hard way…

Find the beauty in the small things and Praise Jesus. (<====Click to Tweet)

A Journey to Finding Home – #AtlasGirl

This post is part of the Atlas Girl Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!

Family Vacation

My beautiful family on vacation last summer!

When I was growing up my parents took us on a family vacation each summer. We would load up the van with all of our camping gear, some food staples and head out on our adventure.

We would have rented some family friendly cassette tapes from the library and sing along to “C is for cookie”. And we would work on a new latch-hook project (does anyone else remember those?!) It was a time of innocence and something that we all looked forward to.

We tent-camped, cooked our meals on a little Coleman stove and made smores almost every night. When we would get to the camp site we would drive around and look for the best site to put up our tent and then once that was done we would go exploring.

One vacation was to Yellowstone National Park. We had been there a day when the spot next to ours was filled with this HUGE pull behind camper. And out came this girl who was just about my age. I honestly can’t remember her name right now, but I am going to call her Cindy.

Cindy was from California and she was surely rich. I hadn’t ever been inside a pull behind camper before and it was AMAZING. Put our 5 man tent to shame and I instantly felt a little twinge of jealousy.

She had pegged-rolled jeans (something those of us from the midwest hadn’t experienced yet) and she just seemed to be so wise about the world at the young age of twelve. I wanted to be just like her.

We became fast friends and when we were at the campsite together we would explore and she would tell me stories of this wonderland called California. I was pretty sure that I needed to go there when I “grew up”, because it was THE place to be.

We exchanged addresses and maybe even a couple of letters after that first summer, but the friendship with Cindy didn’t last. What stuck with me though was that feeling that what I had in front of me wasn’t “good enough” and if I wanted better I would have to go far away to find it.

I graduated from high school, and my dreams of living in sunny California had long since passed. Staying close to home was comfortable, safe. And I like those feelings. I can talk big about wanting to travel but the reality is that where I am most at home IS at home. (<====Click to Tweet)

I didn’t value family when I was growing up. I wasn’t able to see all of the wonderful things that my parents did for us. I just felt like because I didn’t have what someone else did, that I didn’t measure up.

But becoming a parent myself has changed that vision. 

I know how hard my parent’s worked to provide for us and  especially when they planned these trips each summer, I am well aware of how much went into making these memory-filled experiences. And I am grateful for them. I hope that I can do the same for my own family.

Emily Weirenga went on a journey of her own to find herself. Today her new book Atlas Girl – Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look is released and it is a beautiful memoir of her finding home in the most unlikely of places. Emily left home believing that she wouldn’t return and yet God sought her in each place that she travelled. As she did some exploring of her own she found His healing hand, redemption from the hurts of her past and the road leading her back home.

Each of us are on a journey to finding home, this book will encourage and inspire you to trust God in the midst of trials and darkness, to seek His light in this dark world and find to home in Him, wherever that leads you.

Thank you for your beautiful words Emily, what a treasure this book of yours is!

 

Emily T. Wierenga, award-winning journalist and author of 4 books, has released her first memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look. They say the book is like “Girl Meets God” meets “Wild” meets “Eat, Pray, Love.” I say the book is inspiring. You can grab a copy here. I was given a copy of Emily’s book to read and review, from Baker Publishing Group, all opinions are my own.

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Five Minute Friday – Laundry

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Linking up with Lisa Jo again this week to participate in Five Minute Friday.

Today’s word is LAUNDRY– ready, set go –

It piles up every day, the laundry that my family produces.

With 6 of us in the family, I need to be doing laundry constantly or it would become overwhelming in a heartbeat.

Each morning before I leave for work I start a load on delay. The best invention for a working mom is a washing machine that can be set to run at delay so that it is complete when I come home for lunch. No more stinky laundry – I love it!

At times keeping up with it can be frustrating. The sheer volume of socks that comes out of my dryer taunts me. I despise folding socks. I will fold everything first before those socks and even then the socks might find themselves spinning along with the next load once again.

But if I stop for a moment I can see the blessing in my laundry.

For some, they have to take their laundry out of the home to pay at a Laundromat. I have access to my washer and dryer any time. For some women in the world, a dirty river is the only place available to get their clothes clean. I have an amazing laundry room compared to those standards.

I know there are women out there that would give anything to have to fold pairs or little socks and underwear, but for some reason can’t have children. Hearing mothers complain about something they only wish was a problem for them can be hurtful. I can see that with each sock that needs to be matched it represents a little member of my family.

I know it can be difficult to see something like laundry as a blessing, but it is. The piles represent life. Our life. With each new day there are messes and stains, but there is life happening around us and so I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my family in this way.

And some day I will hopefully defeat my fear of the overwhelming sock basket. For now I will continue to let my husband, who graciously offers to sort them, tackle that part of the job! 🙂

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