My Favorite Things

On the eve of my 27th birthday I’ve taken a moment to ponder what I love about this life. My list is long but I thought I would share 50 of my favorites, in no particular order:

First rain
Fresh air
Healing
Laughter
Music
Sharing food
Growing plants
Raising animals
Family time
Flowers
Leaves falling
Learning
Compliments
Volunteers
Date nights
Pets
Boats
Holidays
Fresh baked goodies
Random kindness
Peace
Good health
Giving
Coffee with a friend
Things kids say
Hand-me-downs
Warm drinks
Fire on a cold night
Mittens
Fireworks
McDonalds fries
Sweatpants
Gravity
Swimming
Letting go
Naps
Respectful children
Ice cream
Wide open spaces
Green lights
Clean sheets
Finishing a project
Dirt roads
Cows
Freedom
Costumes
Finding treasures
Starry skies
Sunshine
Creative minds

Pompeño Jelly

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See my Pomegranate Jelly post for regular pomegranate jelly and the general jelly making process.  This time I turned it up a notch and incorporated jalapeños from my garden for an extra kick!  I had had about 40 pomegranates, which made about 3 quarts of juice once I strained out the extra pulp that made it through the juicer.

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My 40 beautiful poms –>

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Juice the poms

The last time I juiced poms (see Pomegrantate Jelly post) we used cheesecloth and carefully separated the seeds (arils) then juiced them.  This time we used a Jack La Lane juicer, cut both ends off of the poms, quartered them and threw them in the juicer.  Including the whole pom seemed to make it have a more distinct pomegranate flavor.  I think this is similar to why people zest oranges and lemons.  The rind has a very strong, distinct flavor.  I would use this method again.  It is quicker and captures all of the pom goodness!

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I recommend using a bowl under the container you are collecting juice in.  This minimizes the juice wasted and helps with the mess.

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Infuse the juice with jalapeño

I used my small chopper.  I poured in some juice, cut up two small jalapenos and threw them in, seeds and all!  I chopped for about 2 minutes.  I then ran the juice through a strainer to strain the big chunks of jalapeno and seeds out.  The more adventurous may want to keep the chunks.  Since this was an experiment I erred on the side of caution.

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So I made 2 regular batches of Pomegrantate Jelly and one trial batch of pompeño jelly!

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For the basic process, see my Pomegrantate Jelly post.  The main things to remember are add the pectin to the pom juice and stir constantly over high heat…

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Add the sugar once the mixture has come to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.  Then, boil for one minute.

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Follow the direction on the Pomegrantate Jelly post and you will end up with beautiful jars of jelly that will be a nice sweet treat to spread on toast or a biscuit on a cold winter day.

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Canning and home preserving has been a lovely new venture for us.  I love the fact that you can put the taste, smell and feel of a summer or fall fresh fruit or vegetable in a can to later be opened and enjoyed.  It is a fabulous feeling!  It is a labor of love and I love the whole process.  Stay classy my friends!

Wedding Wednesday: The Flowers

UD7A3402With a few photos saved from Pinterest onto the iPad and a head full of dreams, I stopped for my appointment at the local flower shop.  Initially I had planned on growing and arranging all of my flowers but when it got closer to our wedding date, I gave in!  I decided I would put together all of the flowers for the reception tables and hire a professional for the bridal party flowers.

I have lived in the small town of Wheatland my whole life.  I can’t remember too many times that I found what I needed in our small town.  Usually it required a trip to Yuba City or Roseville to get things done.  Not this time!

Every step in planning a wedding shouldn’t be a big to-do.  It will help you to treat your wedding like any other project you have.  That is what worked for me anyway.  It is less daunting if you take it day-by-day and project-by-project.  I made lists and slowly but surely attacked each project until completion.

I chose my wedding vendors based on the following: 1) family and friends’ recommendations, 2) reviews from the internet, 3) reviewing the quality of their past work, and 4) customer service starting from the moment I made my initial contact.  I had one disappointing consultation with a local florist that I had always heard great things about, which led to making an appointment with the florist in Wheatland.

I’m glad I decided to give Wheatland Florist a shot because Yolanda and her team did a fantastic job!  I only gave her about two weeks to prepare.  I shared a few pictures, gave her a list of a few flowers I cannot stand and an overall theme “simple and country”.  She took over from there and designed my bridal party’s bouquets and boutonnieres.  She also made corsages for our mothers  and grandmothers, and boutonnieres for our fathers.  The flowers were top quality and stayed fresh all day long through the 111 degree heat!  They held together and looked perfect throughout the whole event.

Before you look anywhere else, try shopping local.  Not only is it good for your community, but can sometimes turn out for the better.  Small town businesses often get overlooked.  Wheatland Florist’s prices were phenomenal and compared to the other florists I consulted and their customer service was fantastic.  The cost of the flowers was the best surprise!  They were within my budget and significantly less than the other quotes I had received.  Now I’m a loyal Wheatland Florist customer!  I hope you will give them a try too!

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bride’s bouquet

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groom’s boutonniere

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bridesmaid’s flowers

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junior bridesmaids’ flowers

http://www.wheatlandflorist.com/

Photography by Samantha Prather Photography

http://samanthaprather.com/

Antibiotics: Doctoring Food Animals

Giving antibiotics to food animals is a hotly debated topic.  I’ve spent a fair share of time giving vaccinations and doctoring sick calves on our ranch and others.  I would like to tell you first hand that people producing animals for food are not just administering drugs to animals all willy-nilly!  Food animal production is a careful science and to many farming families it is their income and purpose in life.  Raising animals is often a rewarding experience and lifestyle but it is also hard work and it takes a special breed of person to do it!

The FDA and other regulatory bodies regulate the types and amounts of drugs that can be administered to animals.  There are even more stringent regulations and withdrawal periods for livestock raised for meat and milk production.

Treating sick animals is expensive!  No rancher wants a calf to get sick because it directly effects their productivity and bottom line.  Ranchers also have compassion and don’t want the animal to suffer. When an animal is sick it is not gaining weight and developing like its contemporary group.  Just like humans, when animal disease and sickness is not treated, it spreads.  The vaccinations given to animals throughout their lives are to help them, not harm them.

Generally, calves raised in the beef industry are treated with antibiotics when they get sick.  The antibiotics and other medications have specific withdrawal times.  See the Beef Magazine article below for more information about withdrawal times.  An animal cannot be harvested until the applicable withdrawal time has passed.  The FDA and USDA have done many studies on withdrawal times and the length of time antibiotics stay in the animal’s system.  They also consistently do testing in harvest facilities to make sure producers are following the rules and keeping our food safe.

My main point is that it is good to know where your food comes from and monitor it’s safety, but stay informed and don’t believe the scare tactics put forth by activists groups.  The American food system is safe and highly regulated.  Farmers and ranchers struggle every day to meet the strictest regulations and put a safe product in your grocery store.  Be thankful you have high quality, safe food!

“According to the CDC, the most urgent threats are posed by antibiotic-resistant infections that have emerged in hospitals, as a result of heavy antibiotic use there.”

Repost from The Salt

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/09/16/223109560/cdc-deadliest-drug-resistance-comes-from-hospitals-not-farms

Beef Magazine – Understanding Animal Drug Withdrawal Times

http://beefmagazine.com/blog/guide-understanding-animal-drug-withdrawal-times