Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pretty Sunflower, Edible Sunflower Seeds

On a whim, while at the store in the spring, I decided to buy some Mammoth Sunflower seeds. I thought they would look cool. I planted them near the pumphouse because at the time we didn't have much going on there. 

They started growing slowly and I wasn't sure exactly what to expect. Now? They are HUGE! I had no idea the stalks were so thick. They are at least 2.5 inches in diameter and they are at least 12 feet tall! I love walking past them every day on the way to work and seeing their progress. They were all as tall as the pumphouse before they even started to grow flowers. Now most of them have flowers. 

One day one of the stalks started really leaning. I am not sure what happened because it started out of no where. The other day I decided to cut off the flower and bring it to my mom because she used to really like sunflowers. (It was the only one I could reach too!) It wasn't a well thought out plan because it wasn't really easy to cut (thick stalk!) and it was really heavy! Once we got it there, we also had to figure out how to put it in a vase because it is so top heavy. We finally got it figured out and it looks great on her counter!

(Sorry for the bad cell phone photo)

After inspecting the sunflower close up and checking out the seed packet again I realized these were edible seed sunflowers. I decided it would be pretty cool to figure out how to harvest the seeds. Neither Adam nor I are into eating sunflower seeds, but some people like to!

Funny story about eating sunflower seeds....
The other day at school one of my preschoolers said her tooth hurt her a lot. To appease her I looked inside her mouth and there was a little piece of something hard sticking out of her gums! I reached in and pulled it out because that had to hurt (oops, forget the gloves, but I did wash my hands right away) and it looked like a little piece of wood. I asked if she had been chewing on a toothpick or something else and she insisted she hadn't. I let it drop. Later that day during snack time she said she brought a snack to share with her friends. She went to her backpack and came back with...a bag of sunflower seeds! (I still didn't get it). After explaining to her that it was nice for her to want to share, but that probably wasn't a snack we should share with our friends, she went to put them back. My assistant said, "THAT'S what was stuck in her gums!". Duh!

I have now decided to harvest the sunflower seeds from our flowers. Maybe Kristin's husband Ryan would like some? He always loved them in college.

I found some websites like this one and this one and this one to help me figure out what I need to do. What I learned is that right now I just need to wait, enjoy, and let them dry out. After the heads are dry and dead, I can cut them off and hang them upside down to dry some more. A really good tip I read was to cover the heads with a paper bag if the squirrels or birds try to eat the seeds before I harvest them. Amy was just telling me that we could collect the seeds and use them to plant new flowers next year too!

 I'd love any additional sunflower tips you may have!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The "Last" Wedding

After college, when I was single, I spent quite a bit of time with a group of also single friends. We spent our time enjoying the bars in the area and making sure that they stayed in business. (Just to help the economy you know.) A few of us called ourselves the "Sex and the City Girls", but there was a larger very fun group that spent those weekends together. As of last Saturday night, all of us are now married. It is crazy to think about! We realized there has been a wedding every year for the last 4 years, until the last 14 months when we had 3! We have spent quite a bit of time recently, reminiscing and making plans for faux weddings so we can get together, drink and dance!

Saturday night was Kim's wedding and of course it was a blast.

I have so many friends in my life that I feel so lucky to have. I have friends from different facets of my life and I am grateful for all of them every day. Saturday night was a celebration of Kim and Phil's love, but also another great night with some great friends!

 I made a card for them that was inspired by their wedding invitation. I was pretty proud of it!

Cute tissue paper flowers on the aisle rows. I think these were great decorations!

The beautiful couple!

In between the ceremony and reception our "Wedding Group" went to a bar to hang out.  

The beautiful cake. I love wedding cakes!

The wedding girls! (Minus the bride)

The wedding boys 
Lovin' thinking back on memories from our wedding.

We made clay turtles at the bachelorette party and we got them at the wedding. We had fun making them the new centerpiece at our table. We were totally the trouble making table and it was great. Just means we were having fun!

I woke up Sunday morning sore. It may have had to do with dancing all night without a break.

Or it may have had to do with Bridget's idea to leap across the dance floor to Lady Gaga. It caught on and even the bride and groom joined in. After the song was over the DJ stopped and said, "What ARE you doing??" We don't really know.

There were also plans made for other silly plans in the future. At Bridget's 30th birthday party we sucked helium, at Kim's wedding we leapt.....what is next???

The boys were sitting at our table wondering, "Who did we marry???"

After the wedding we just didn't want the fun to end, so we had after hours at another bar!

We were out until 2:00 am and boy was I tired Sunday morning. It was a blast and totally worth it! From those years after college when we were regularly out until 4:00 am til now there have been many changes in our lives. Staying out until 2:00 was something that hasn't happened in a long time. In the last couple years, it only happens for bachelorette parties and weddings. But that is fun as well. Getting older means changes, but doesn't mean the fun has to stop! We also realized last night that we have just as much fun dancing to G-rated Twist and Shout and The Chicken Dance as to Ke$ha and Eminem! Friends are the common denominator and good friends can have fun no matter what they are doing!

*Obviously this isn't the LAST important wedding in my life! My sister gets married next summer and so does my BIL and I anticipate a great deal of fun. There will be many other important weddings in the coming years. However, this was the "last" wedding of my girlfriends and marks a point in our lives that means baby showers not bachelorette parties!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Last Week's Farm Update

I am about a week behind in posting my updated pictures of our gardens, but it has been a busy week! Our vegetable garden is winding down for the season, but the pumpkins are just starting to show off their stuff! We have had a very successful year in the garden this year. Though we were really behind planting our vegetable garden because I was taking 2 classes in the spring, we had some great success with most of our vegetables. 

One of our varieties of tomato plants has produced many yummy tomatoes. One still only has green tomatoes on it. Hm. Not sure what happened there.

Our yellow onions are our other not as successful plant. They seemed to be slow growing, but they still do have some time.

We had NO problems growing zucchini (or squash) this year! Here are two crazy huge zucchinis that are over ripe, but they are the length of a tall baby!

We had great cucumbers this year. We planted 3 varieties and 2 of them were wonderful. I am figuring out which ones I like better for slicing, pickling and which are better for dill and sweet pickles!

Our cantaloupe are pretty sad. We had a TON, but animals got to most of them. I think we only got 2!

After the school year started, we started losing a lot of vegetables that got overripe. There just wasn't enough time to go pick them! I would walk by in the morning and after school and realize I needed to do something....but did not feel like heading into the buggy garden after leaving school at 8:00 at night!

But the pumpkins are looking good! It is almost their turn to shine!


Baby Boo Gourds (mini pumpkins)

Lumina (white pumpkins)

I look forward to seeing the pumpkins ripen over the next couple weeks. Then comes the time to pick, bleach, and store them until pumpkin selling season in October. We also have an idea in the works to have a weekend day for people to come pick a pumpkin, maybe carve them, and get a ride on the John Deere. I hope it works out because I think it will be a fun gathering for our friends and family!

View from the back of the pumpkin patch

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Pickled Pickles and Zucchini?

In addition to canning pickles this year, I decided to trying pickling zucchini and squash. I read about it on the Internet. I figure if you read it on the Internet, it has got to be OK, right?
 Here are all my chopped vegetables. The squash and zucchini are so big I couldn't just slice them.

Lots o garlic for the dill pickles! I heart garlic.

My stove is too small for canning! The big pot in the back left is where I boil the brine. The medium pot in the front left is where I sterilize the lids. The humongous pot in the right front is where I sterilize the jars and then give the jars a hot water bath. It gets SO hot there, with all those big pots, that the tiles started falling off the backsplash! Yikes! It was starting to fall apart anyway, so we weren't too freaked out.

Clean and sterilized jars!

 Bread and Butter pickled zucchini and squash

 One of my many batches of pickles!

Another batch!

I canned about 130 jars of pickles this year! Well....pickles and....squash and zucchini. 

I have tried the bread and butter squash and zucchini and actually I think they are yummy! I wonder if they are a little better for you?

I canned a lot more jars this year than the last two years I did pickles. I am hoping that it is worthwhile! I enjoy doing it. But I also am doing it to make money. We have sold quite a few jars so far. But there are many more to go! I sold out 2 years ago so quickly that I knew I had to make more. Canning is quite the laborious process, but at least I have the availability in the summer to do it. I am considering buying one of those padded chef mats for the kitchen because standing there in the kitchen for 9 hours at a time kills my feet! 

We have sold only bread and butter pickles so far because the dill won't be ready until October. They take about 2 months to be their yummiest! 

Let's hope people keep wanting to buy pickles this year! Otherwise that is all we will be eating all winter.

You gotta love the Internet. How else would this suburban girl ever learn how to can???