Spaghetti or Pizza Sauce

I have had several people inquire on how and why I do my spaghetti sauce the way I do?

I didn’t grow up canning, so everything I do I have learned from others or on my own through research. The recipe is from a “family” member, the method is one I discovered on my own and it works well for our family. Our garden never gives many tomatoes at a time, so canning as they come in is out of the question. Rather we wash them off and freeze them in gallon bags as they come in until we have enough for a canning day. It seems that a lot of people aren’t terribly familiar with this method, so I thought I would share a step by step process (as best I can) with you.

First we pulled all our tomatoes out of the freezer last night and dumped them into clean (food use only) five gallon buckets.

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They sat out all night and were mostly thawed when we woke up.


I drained what water I could off of them before putting them on the stove.


Once on the stove I cut a bunch of onions and added them to the pots.


We let them simmer down for roughly 2-3 hours. (The first two photos are from starting, the second two are right before I sent them through the processor)

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I ran all the cooked tomatoes through  the processor and added all the seasoning to it and simmered it again for about an hour.

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During this process we ended up with about 2 gallons of “trash” from the tomatoes. This will go back into our garden as compost.


While that was cooking with the spices, I had the fun job of cleaning up all the dirty dishes and work spaces.


When it was finished, we filled the jars and processed them for about 10 minutes.

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And now we are enjoying the sound of “popping” as each jar tightly seals for the winter, and awaits its time for use.

He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely,
But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.

Proverb 10:5




I am choosing to praise! Its not easy….but I need to.

I am thankful first and foremost to serve a loving and all-knowing God. I am thankful for my children who even now are sleeping through the storm. I am thankful for a vigilant husband, who has his alarm set to check everything, every hour. I am thankful for the past flood, that gave us wisdom in how to prepare. I am thankful we can process what is happening and be rational. I am thankful to be awake, so I can focus on my Lord, instead of the storm. I am thankful there are people who aren’t getting the rain. I am thankful for being able to pick lima beans at midnight. I am thankful for children who remind me of things that are important to them. I am thankful for shelter from the storm. I am thankful for peace. I  am thankful for prayer warriors. I am thankful for safety. I am thankful for meteorologists. I am thankful for the ability to write this. I am thankful for these things that allow me to draw closer to my God. I am thankful this isn’t common. I am thankful we don’t have a rainy season. I am thankful for being able to make it home from my errands without trouble. I am thankful I can cry. I am thankful for advice from friends that we notched away for such an occasion. I am thankful there are people who can empathize with us.

Tonight I choose to praise. I am not diminishing the fact that I am scared, nervous, worried, frustrated, sleepy, weary, etc. Anyone who is aware of what we have been through understands this. But tonight, since I am awake, I have two choices, to get caught in the wave of negative thoughts and emotions, or to challenge myself to see God in this and praise Him.

“And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm”

-Casting Crowns-Praise You in the Storm

So tonight as I try something new, I thank you if you have been lead by the Holy Spirit to pray for us. Prayers carry us further then you can imagine. But please keep in mind, if you sincerely want to know how I am doing, and if I tell you fine, call my bluff. Its situations like this where I can put on a mask, not intentionally, but its human nature. Thank you for following us on this journey. And please help us find Praise in the storm.


Starting in the end of August our birthday season begins for our family.

As we have grown as a family we try to find ways to make birthdays special, blessed and unique. This means the priviledge of choosing a birthday meal, a birthday cake, waking up to your present on the kitchen table, and the use of the birthday plate.

I have to admit I had high expectations for this birthday for myself. But the time of year and other circumstances have pushed off something special happening until later. I am okay with that. For once I had my expectations high but I am okay with the let down. A group of friends did “surprise” me with a night out. And my brother surprised me with the best ice cream cake ever….from my home neighborhood! (it survived being in a cooler for several hours and wasn’t thawed.)


We then head into my firstborn’s birthday in the end of September. ACK! Can he really be 7? Our Mighty has been a blessing since day one. He is extremely active, loves firefighting and baseball, he is a pleaser, a question asker, and the best big brother, hand picked by God for his siblings.


This year he wanted a jackhammer cake. Really? Where did that come from? Well, some brainstorming and help from my incredible hubby, who is wise in the tool area, I think he was quite pleased with his jackhammer cake (shared with family) and Lego Trio Construction Set.

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Then we head into my dearest’s birthday. It happens to fall on a crazy weekend almost every year. This year it was celebrated with two of his favorite birthday dinners, and his favorite birthday cake (a day late).

We are in birthday break until November when our 2nd born celebrates right around thanksgiving, being that he was born on thanksgiving that year! 🙂 So I will enjoy our celebrating break until the holiday season is in full force!

We feel blessed to recognize that each year is another year that God has blessed us with individually and as a family. May we never loose site of the Giver and Creator of life!

School of Life

The school of life…..Where is it taking you? What have you learned? What are you going to learn? Who is your teacher? Who are your peers? Are you late? Are you always on time? Are you organized? Do you procrastinate? How did you do on that test? Are you failing? Are you an honor student? Do you have a diploma? Do you have a Bachelor’s degree? Or are you going for a Master’s or Doctorate? Are you popular? Are you a bully? Are you the head of the class? Are you forgotten?

The school of life….

Quite the complex schooling. You are always learning, always growing, failing and passing, you will always be known and not known, you will either make time or loss it, you will always aim for higher achievements, but what is the ending?

God orchestrated the school of life for His honor and glory. Am I in the classes I thought I would be in? Absolutely not…but my Principal knows best and has placed me where He wants me and where He knows I will succeed, even if it is through some failures. God is in control. So what do we do with our school record up until now? God has signed off on it with His son’s death on the cross. Christ’s blood has covered that which I have done and continues to cover each step from the time I met Him and allowed Him to be the Master of my school.

It never ceases to amaze me, His hand in everything, His perfect will in everything, His plan in everything. And though we don’t see all the answers or all He has protected us from, He chooses to reveal Himself in ways that are completely undeniable.

As I continue on this journey of schooling my children at home, I am given daily, an insight into how God must view us. Picture your life as a student under God’s guiding hand and direction. Are you willing to be corrected? Are you willing to try your hardest, even if it seems to hard? Are you will to push through the no so fun to get to the fun? Are you willing to listen? Are you willing to change? Are you willing to learn from your mistakes? I deal with this each day with my children. They want to quit when the work seems too hard. How often do I do that to God? They don’t always accept correction. Am I doing the same thing to my Teacher? The boring work is handled carelessly but the fun work is taken with diligence. Do I do that? Do I only want to do the glorious things God has for me or am I diligent in the monotony of life as well as the excitement of life? They quit when they are so close to finishing. Do I do the same?

Maybe it wasn’t my idea to homeschool. Maybe God saw I needed to learn just as much as my children did. Am I willing to learn what He has to teach me? Am I willing to be corrected and redirected? May my focus continue to be challenged, shaped and changed by my Teacher, as my children are by me. And ultimately may they find the peace, joy, and challenge of having Him as their Teacher as well.

I am not perfect but God continues to teach me that He is the ultimate authority in my school of life and with Him in control I have nothing to fear and I can rest in the fact the He knows what is best for me in the end.


Anniversaries aren’t worth celebrating

Controversial title I know, but my blog, my thoughts! :p (I like a little attention grabbing.) 

Anyway, the next two days mark events that I would rather have not happened in my life. Followed by the most excruciating weeks I have ever known. As this year marks the ten years since the motorcycle accident, I am keenly aware of God’s hand through the entire trial.  I realize that had God’s hand not been on the entire event (link overload) (read posts,,,,,,,,, things would be drastically different.

But regardless of all I have learned and gained through this experience, it is really one of those anniversaries that isn’t worthy of celebrating but definitely worth remembering.

The other is that of being flooded out by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

I haven’t blogged much about this one….I guess there is just so much wrapped up in it.


I have had every intention of playing with photoshop to put out combined photos so you can see the vastness, heaviness, amazingness, and horriblity of the whole situation. We are very aware of the fact that there were those who had it far worse then we did. And we are very aware of our many blessings through the whole situation. But it is still an open wound needing to be healed. Two years have past and it still feel like it happened just yesterday. The trauma a natural disaster releases on one’s life is very great. I am so glad we have a Christian community to surround and love us, but it is only within the last 6 months that people have really begun to grasp the emotional trauma we have endured since then. God is gracious and we are slow. He is continuing to heal us, help us, and strengthen us. And for this I am so glad we serve such an awesome God. So though two years are here, this is one anniversary I am not going to celebrate, I will remember but with fear and trembling.

Not all anniversaries are joyous. Some are painful! We need to be watchful to “weep with those who weep” when such anniversaries arise. God is an awesome God, loving God, healing God, and caring God. We all go through times of trial and struggle, the question is what will we do with those times? Will we allow God to grow us through it? Will we allow God to provide? Will we allow God to carry us? I have learned a lot from these events, and for that I am grateful. I would have never learned a lot if it had not been for these. But I would never wish these on an enemy. Without God I can’t imagine how anyone can get through the tough times. God gives us hope and assurance that things will work out for the better in the long run. So I leave you to ponder these thoughts and some songs that helped me through.

The Flood (Praise you in the storm) (Blessings) (Walk on Water) (What it Feels Like)

The Accident (All in All) (Heal the Wound)

First Day of First Grade

And just like that my 2 oldest have begun first grade. This year we were blessed to have daddy home to start the school year off. I was able to finish getting everything the way I want it for the coming year, and spend some “school” time with my third born who says she wants to do school but isn’t quite ready for it.

This year we opened with a fun letter for each child. Our boys got the same letter.Image

If it doesn’t make sense here is how it read:

“Dear T or J–

Welcome to your first day of first grade! We hope you will start this year off without being a (crybaby). May this year be a (ball) as you learn to be (painterz) and (smarties). Hopefully through the year you will go on a learning (spree) without any (warheads). You need to know that school (rocks) and you will become a (nerd) either (now or later). Love dad and mom.”

Our daughter’s read slightly different because she isn’t doing school quite yet. I will focus on helping her achieve a teachable spirit. Strongwilledness runs strong in this house and I want her to look forward to learning and starting kindergarten verses the battle that I know it can become with a strong-willed child.

First Day of School (5)a

Her’s read,

“Dear C—

We know you are not starting school this year but we are expecting you to grow and continue learning. We will need your help to keep T— from going on a destruction (spree). We also hope that you learn to like learning without being a (crybaby) or a (warhead). You need to learn that school (rocks) and that it will make you a (smartie) and a (nerd). love dad and mom.”

With all that-a new school year is a challenge. My baby no longer takes morning naps and loves to be around people and her sister really can only tolerate playing with her for so long. It also presents me with having to learn a new format of teaching and topics and styles. This is difficult for my type A, very structured, liking predictability, personality. To say we are off to a smooth start would be optimistic. I think the start off school and the end of school go fairly rough. We come off of being able to go outside and play all the time in the beginning and at the end we are antsy to spend more time doing the things we want to. I am also starting this school year off without my helper. This means I really need to regroup and find time managing skills. So with that this is the beginning of a new year and we are hoping that we can find our niche like last year and get to enjoying our new routine and schedule. Prayers for continuing on this journey are appreciated.

Math and School and Life

For anyone who knows me, you know I HATE math. I barely passed it in high school, as well as in college. I am just not geared for it. I thrived when it was made practical and integrated into my ag. classes in high school, making feed rations and calculating weights and body mass and how much meat we would get dressed and undressed. That I could handle but aside from all that, I really struggle. There are times I call my husband at work to help me double or triple a recipe. I really am that bad.

With all that said I got to thinking about my children and school and life in general the other day. Really I think about these things often being a stay at home and homeschool mom, but these thoughts went somewhere they don’t usually. I sat down with my husband and we crunched some numbers, and I was left mind-blown after the conversation. It still sits in the back of my mind the greatness and sadness behind this.

Let me share with you my thoughts and feel free to correct my math or my conclusions, but this is what has been on my heart and my mind and I want to share it.

We send our children to school for 5, 6 hour days. That is 30 hours in a week. In PA they are required to have 180 days in, so 180 days times 30 hours, is 5400 hours in a year spent at school. Children spend 12 years in school so 5400 hours times 12 years equals 64,800 hours a child spends in school. That’s a whole lot of hours, so lets break down some more. 64,800 hours divided by 24 hours (in a day), is 2700 days. Then take the 2700 days and divide that by 365 days (in a year), and you have 7.397 years of a child’s life spent outside of home in the school system.

Almost 7 and a half years away from our influence. If our children are only in our homes until they are eighteen that means almost half of their time in our homes under our guidance and supervision is spent being influenced by the outside world. Their world view and social ideas are being shaped by others than us, their parents.

These numbers are a reflection of the bare necessities of schooling. No  extra curricular activities, no programs, just to school and back again.

With being on the doorstep of starting a new school year. Most of our friends kids have already started, we plan to start Monday, Philly schools start the 9th of September. My world seems to have taken on a new perspective. We were recently asked why we decided to homeschool, as part of joining a homeschool group to provide broader opportunities for our children to thrive and learn. I have to admit that our answer was shallow and weak but it was the truth. We wanted our children to have a Christian education but private school is super expensive and public school was not an option, so for financial reasons we decided to try homeschooling. The other half of our answer was a reference a friend of ours shared…they told us, “they couldn’t imagine knowing their kids any less.” That was a powerful statement. And has really helped us make certain decisions regarding our homeschooling efforts.

*side note* I am not bashing anyone who chooses to send their children to public or private school. I know homeschooling is not for everyone, I went to public school, hubby to went to Christian school, so there is no judging or condemning. 🙂

When we got home from that meeting I felt a might bit discouraged, wondering if we made the wrong choice, are we homeschooling for all the wrong reasons? Then I stumbled across this illustration on Pinterest.

Child Time Charta

This chart is what got me thinking about how much time we invest into our children’s lives. With my oldest getting ready to turn seven I find myself blown away by the idea that our impact on his life is almost half gone. It is my prayer that the time we have with him is used to the best of our abilities. Guided by our knowledge of the bible and rooted in God’s truth.

So did we start homeschooling for the right reasons, probably not, but rest assured our desire is to raise well educated, well rounded, God-fearing, free thinking, inquisitive, intelligent, loving, caring, (and much more) children. And thus we feel we are starting this school year out with the right motives and ambitions.

When I crunched those numbers I was almost made numb by the sadness of what some parents and children are missing out on because of schooling. Some countries it is illegal to homeschool, in some places it’s not an option. Again it doesn’t matter what you choose for your children, the point I want to drive home is how is that time spent? What we do with the other half of those 18 years we have with the children is very important. Are we teaching them God’s word when they are home? Are we sharing our spiritual growth with them? Are we praying together? Are we interested in what interests them? Are we singing the same songs? Are we working side by side on projects and housework? Are we loving, correcting, training, rebuking, crying, and exploring together? As cliché as it is, we only have these children in our lives for a short period of time, and that time flies by.

Seven and a half years isn’t that long at all, yet it is a big chunk of time. Remember I said we will soon have a seven year old. Has it really been that long? But we have been through a lot in those seven years. May God guide all of us as we struggle, grow, learn and walk through these years of schooling with our children.