It’s A Grape Day!

So, I have about a million (or more) things to do today, but I need a break, so I’m blogging. Makes sense, right? You should see my living room right now. Toys and laundry are everywhere. I can get to that tomorrow…

First of all, my baby girl turned 5 this week!!!! I can hardly believe it! That is part of the reason why I’m so busy. We’re having her birthday party tonight. The poor thing…I have discovered that her birthday will always fall right around Opening Day of deer hunting season. So, we have to squeeze her party in on a Friday night. Oh well. It’ll be ok.

Hunting season…that’s another reason why things are so busy around here. Tomorrow is “Youth Day”. That means all the dads take their sons (or daughters) out to hunt. I don’t know if it’s really for the kids or the dads. All I know is that my guys have the hunting bug really bad! It’ll almost be a relief when the season does start! It’s like Christmas Eve around here folks!

So. I have discovered something. Grapes. Now, I’ve had grapes before. I go to the supermarket and buy them (only when they’re on sale, because…really…who can afford $3.99/pound when your kids can eat their weight in grapes???). However, this year, our family finally did something we’ve been saying we would do for years. Pick-Your-Own grapes!!

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It’s practically in our backyard. There is a vineyard in the town where we live. Here‘s their website if you’re interested. Their season is winding down, but let me tell you. If you’re ever in the area, around the end of August – first part of September, you MUST PICK THEIR GRAPES! They have Concord and Niagara. We didn’t care much for the Niagara grapes, but we loved the Concords. I have never had a grape fresh off the vine. Amazing!!!

The first time we picked grapes, we came home with a mere 5 pounds. Well, those didn’t last long at all. I made grape jelly and some grape juice (I have 2 recipes which I will share later). Since we had picked early, we decided to go back and get some more. We may have gotten a little carried away, and picked about 15 pounds. I made more jelly and more juice, but still had a lot leftover. That’s when a friend of mine told me about grape pie.

Grape pie. Heard of it? Me either.

It is delicious. I can’t even describe it. There are no words. Forget apple pie…cherry…blueberry…this takes the cake pie.

My friend gave me a couple of recipes, but I used this one from All Recipes…basically because the other one she gave me required quick cooking tapioca and I didn’t have any (and didn’t’ know what it was).

I took it to our Bible Study group that meets in a home on Sunday nights.  Now, if you’ve read any of my blogs, you may remember that my husband hates for me to use our group as “Guinea pigs” on my new recipes.  However, they’re our friends, so I think “who better to try things out on?”

As you might think…it was a huge hit.  A smashing success.  A triumph unlike any other.  Ok…maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but there was none left and a gentleman said it was the best pie he’s ever had…in his entire life…and I’m not going to say he was really old, but he was older than me…so there you go.  Plus, we didn’t get to bring any home 😦

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I was very sad when I figured out that there was no pie leftover and no more grapes at home.  So, when we found out that the vineyard was open for one more week…well, we just HAD to get a few (20) pounds, so I can make more juice, jelly and grape pie filling!!!!

That’s on my “To Do” list this weekend.  It may be a late Sunday night project.  But one thing I know…we WILL have more grape pie this winter!!  Yay!!!

Just a side note…on the recipe, if you have really sweet grapes, you will probably be able to cut down on the sugar.  The recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups, but I could have used 1 cup or maybe even 3/4 cup, because the grapes are crazy sweet by themselves.  Also, make sure to cut vents in the top pie crust.  I did, but they weren’t very wide and they kind of baked closed and there was pie filling everywhere.  It was still delicious, but very messy and sticky.  As a precaution, next time I make the pie, I will also put a baking sheet on the second rack…just in case!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.  Take some time to spend it with family and friends.  To all of you hunters out there…Happy Hunting!!  May your aim be steady and arrows shoot straight!

Hello World!

Wow! It has been a while since I’ve been on here. I almost forgot how this thing works. 🙂 Just kidding, but seriously, it’s been a while.

What have I been doing? What haven’t I been doing? It was a full and busy summer, filled with a trip to visit family, Vacation Bible School, gardening, canning, preparing for a new adventure for our family, more canning…well, you get the picture. It was probably a lot like your summer. All I know is it went by way too fast!  I won’t bore you with ALL of the pics from our trip to visit family, but here are a few of the highlights…

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We had a delightful tea party with Nana & PawPaw, where everyone had to wear either a beautiful hat, or a tie…

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We went to a Texas Rangers baseball game with Grandma & Poppa…

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The group, Acapella, was singing the National Anthem while we were there, so Brayden got to meet them!

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I got to meet up with some girlfriends from high school…I hadn’t seen these lovely ladies in about 10+ years.  Two of us live out of state, yet we somehow ended up within about 20 miles of each other at the same time!!

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Here we are wrangling our kiddos for a group pic…

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It was a great trip.  When we got home, it was time to do some serious gardening.  My hubby built a greenhouse this year and our “hothouse” tomatoes were in full swing.  The garden has done great this year, which means I’ve been canning since about July!  We done green beans, tomato soup (I literally canned enough soup to have one jar/week for a year!), tomato juice, pizza sauce, salsa, pickles, jalapeño jelly, jalapeño relish, banana peppers, grape jelly, grape juice…that might be it.  All I know is that I’m out of jars and out of room!  What we didn’t can, we froze.  I have a freezer full of zucchini, yellow squash puree ready for squash pie, corn and okra.

Perhaps even bigger than our canning, was our decision to homeschool.  We’ve been talking about doing it for a couple of years now, but this is the first year we actually put our talking into action.  It was a huge decision. We have several reasons, but one of the more major ones, was to give my son some one on one time that we thought he would benefit from.  I have never homeschooled before.  I have never been homeschooled before.  The idea of it terrified me (and honestly, it still does a little).  I mean, that’s a HUGE responsibility.

Since neither of us had any experience with it, we decided to go the same route a good friend of mine went last year.  We went through a program called k12.com.  It is an online learning program.  Technically, it’s through the public schools.  They sent us curriculum, books and supplies.  Everyday I log in & the list of subjects is there, ready for us.  Periodically, they have “assessments” to make sure the kiddos are actually learning.  They also have live classes that the kids attend, with a real life teacher.  Brayden has live classes for Math, Reading and Virginia Studies.  Sophie has Math & Reading.  We also stay in close contact with a teacher and will have regular parent/teacher conferences.  They even get to pick  from a long list of field trips to go on!

It was really the best of both worlds.  I have a lot of help at my fingertips.  I don’t feel that the kids will get behind, because there are so many things in place to keep us on track.  If you know me at all, I tend to procrastinate a little a lot most of the time.  Soooo…that was something that concerned me about homeschooling.  However, through the K12 program, you have benchmarks and items that will keep you from getting behind.

I had several people tell me that the nice thing about homeschooling is you don’t really have a schedule.  You work it around you.  Well, I need a schedule.  I need structure.  And, I feel that kids need that too.  Plus, with the crazy schedule we had prior to homeschooling, we really needed structure.  But, I guess that’s the beauty of this system.  What works for me might not work for you, and that’s ok.

I promise to not blow up this blog about homeschooling milestones…like when my daughter learned to write her name or can recite the continents, but I will mention how it’s going from time to time.  So far, so good.  We’ve had some stressful, “I don’t want to do this” days, but I eventually got over it 🙂

I have been busy with a few crafts and sewing projects here and there.  I have a lot of cake orders coming up in the next few weeks.  Maybe when they’re all over, I’ll do one article with pics of all of them.  They include a wedding cake, a Frozen birthday cake and baby shower cake pops!  I think it’ll be a lot of fun…crazy, but fun!

So, that’s it for now.  Just know that I’m alive.