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Refresh Your Family By Being the Homemaker

During the recent health crisis of my mom and her hospital stay, I was reminded of this chapter that I contributed for the Extraordinary Woman Book.  Here’s what I wrote:

She riseth while it is yet night and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. Prov. 31:15

The memory is so clear in my mind, even though the event took place when I was only eight.  My mother had gone to the hospital for surgery, requiring her to be away from home for a week. She left plans for our meals, school outfits, and personal needs in the careful hands of our loving dad.  He did all she had instructed him, and we had no immediate wants unmet. However, her very bodily absence left such a void in my young heart that I felt desperate for her presence. Having no way to remedy the situation, I made my way to the front closet where all our coats were hung. Finding my mother’s coat sleeve with the fur cuff, I buried my face in its soft comfort and cried tears of longing for the one who made our house a home.

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The remembrance of that event brings tears even today, as I recall the short-lived pain that was so real for a child.  I wasn’t used to not having Mom home, and it was a happy reunion when she was well enough to return to our house where she would make everything right again.

It is God’s plan for us as women to make our residence more than a four-walled existence. In verse fifteen of Proverbs 31, we see The Extraordinary Woman stirring about very early in the morning.  Her pre-dawn rising allows her time to prepare food for the day, taking careful efforts to provide for each member of the family. I imagine her household, still comfy in their beds, hearing her stir in the kitchen preparing breakfast, and that truth alone bringing a smile to their sleepy faces.

It’s a sweet comfort when families know that all is well at home because we are there.  Ladies, we are the homemakers; the ones who create a place of warmth, welcome, acceptance and genuine Christlike love.  There are simple ways to accomplish that.

Be there. There are times and situations like my mother’s surgery that temporarily remove us from home, but for the normal days, we need to be there when our children are there, if possible.  We need to be ready to greet our husband with a hug and kiss when he walks in the door.  A full house can’t echo, and an empty house cannot embrace.

Be prepared. Stress is relieved with early preparations. Creating a meal plan will allow us to know what we need at the store.  We will also be able to prepare food early in the day.  There will be time to create a simple, but inviting place for the meal with table settings that include silverware, napkins, a centerpiece of flowers, fruit, or candles to bring warmth.  Imagine the conversations had while dirty dishes wait and silver flickers of candlelight illumine beloved faces. The visions and aromas of even a simple meal prepared are treasures homemakers can provide. Without preparation, it’s just supper; with care, it becomes an event!

Be aware. It’s easy to be disconnected in this day of constant accessibility, even when are at home surrounded by those we love most.  Everyone can get caught up in their own little world, like caged mice running on a wheel. No one is talking or engaging.  Someone must care enough to look up and into faces of the family for signs of need.  That someone is us, the homemaker.  Home is the place for making time to dig into God’s Word together, to pray, and to find answers. We’ll never have the opportunity unless we are alert, and that opportunity comes with the discipline of saying no to self as we put others’ needs before our own leisure.

Be the homemaker that creates the atmosphere your family would miss – even if you were absent for just a week.

  • What would your family say about the atmosphere in your home?  Are you there enough?
  • Are you well prepared for meals?  What do you need to add to make mealtime more inviting?
  • Do you take time daily to look carefully at the needs of your husband?  Your children?

Refresh you home today by being the homemaker your family needs. Image result for tiny heart

denise a
P.S. The book I mentioned can be found in this link.  The distributors are having a buy one get one free sale right now.  They have many titles that would make great Christmas gifts!

 

canning · Home making

Canning Peaches at Home

For years I was really afraid to try canning at home.  I think I was scared by stories of pressure canners and the horrific results.  I have chosen to go the route of a water bath in a “big ol’ canner,” as we say in East Tennessee.  It’s simple, it’s easy and it’s so gratifying.  Today I’m sharing the simple method I’ve been doing for the last three years with great success.  As you can see in my pictures, there are lots of pots of water, so if you can boil water, you can can fruits and vegetables!  

Things You’ll Need:

  • Water Bath Canner (or pressure canner)
  • Quart Sized Jars, Lids, and Rings
  • Jar Utensil Set: containing a jar funnel, bubble remover and headspace tool, magnetic lid lifter, and jar lifter.
  • Peaches (about 15lbs for 6 quart sized jars)
  • Sugar 
  • Lemon Juice or Fruit Fresh
  • Large and Small Pots
Before getting started, make sure you pre-wash all the jars and rings.  The dishwasher works great for this.  Now you can prepare the water bath canner.  
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Fill the water bath 2/3 full with water and place on stove top over high heat to bring to a boil.
Rings can be re-used each time you do canning, but the lids should be replaced.  There is a chance they won’t seal with repeated use.
The easiest way to clean the lids is to put them in a small pot of almost boiling water for about 5 minutes.
First rinse the peaches with cold water.
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Since we don’t want to peel all the peaches by hand, we are going to blanch them. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and drop the peaches in and let sit for 30-40 seconds. I set the timer on the microwave so I don’t lose track of the seconds.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the peaches from the pot and place in a large bowl or sink filled with ice cold water.
Take peaches out one at a time, slice them in half, give it a quick turn and they will split open. The peels should slide off easily and you can remove the pits.
Slice the peaches and soak them in lemon water. I use about 1/4 cup lemon juice in about 3 cups of water. This will help keep the peaches from browning. You can also use Fruit Fresh instead of soaking the peaches. Just sprinkle it over the top of the sliced peaches.
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Remove the peaches from lemon water and place in a large bowl. Now is a good time to start the syrup. You can make a light, medium or heavy syrup. For the light syrup use 6 cups of water and 2 cups sugar, for medium syrup: 6 cups water and 3 cups sugar, and for heavy syrup: 6 cups water and 4 cups sugar. I use the light syrup. Heat the water in a medium pan and slowly mix in the sugar. Bring to a light boil, turn down the heat, and keep warm.
I do what’s called the “raw pack” method where I don’t pre-cook the peaches and I just add them to the jars.
Once peaches are added, pour in the syrup. The one batch of syrup should fill 6 jars if you filled them with plenty of peaches. You should have 1/2 to 1 inch of head space at the top.
canning peaches 1
Use a knife or canning tool to press against peaches to remove air bubbles. Tilt the jars slightly and press peaches towards the middle. You will need to do this for the “raw pack” method.
Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean wet cloth and place the lids and rings on. Tighten, but don’t over tighten.
Place jars in the canner.
Make sure you have enough water to cover the jars. Check the chart at the bottom of the page for processing time. Processing times are different based on method used (raw or hot), jar size, and altitude. Cover canner with lid while processing.
Use the jar lifter to remove jars from the canner.
Cool jars completely. You will hear the lids start to “pop” which means they sealed properly. Some will pop while still in the canner. Any jars that have not popped on their own after completely cooled should be refrigerated and used first. Enjoy your peaches!
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Recommended process
Boiling-water bath
Pints – 30 minutes
Quarts – 35 minutes

We will save these peaches for when fresh peaches are no longer in season.  I stretch them out to last all year long!  What a great treat to eat these in the wintertime!

What’s stopping you from trying your hand at canning?  You could start with just a small amount of fruit and get the understanding of the process before launching into a day-long adventure of canning.  

I’m thinking of trying some salsa next!  I have a good number of tomatoes to use and since we like Mexican food so much, I’m pretty sure salsa would be a hit!  

If you could, what would you like to can for wintertime?

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px