Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another juicy post!

So I picked about two gallons of grapes when I got home from work on Monday. I took some pictures of the juice making process. Removed the grapes from the stems, sorting at the same time. Washed the berries a couple times. Mashed with a pastry blender and my fingers for a while. 

Gave up on the manual labor and broke out the hand-held mixer since the Osterizer was dirty. This worked really well to break the pulp loose from the skin of the grapes. Heated the mush and occasionally mashed til boiling. Let it boil for about 10 minutes mashing the grapes more every couple minutes. The skins start to give up a little color at this point and release it into the liquid. While the liquid is heating I got the cheesecloth over a strainer and bowl with a rubber band. I poured the mush into the cheesecloth. I let it sit for several minutes. Then I gathered the edges of the cheesecloth and put a rubber band round the top to make a bag with all the grape gunk in the middle. I didn't want to let it sit out overnight so I squeezed the bag in various ways for at least 30 minutes to press the liquid out. The result is over 4 cups of concentrate.  I did apply my tongue to the cheesecloth bag before I threw it away and it was like a grape popsicle!

This morning I tasted it to see how much water to add, which was almost two cups for every cup of concentrate. Rachel loved it. It turned out great, even better than the previous batch.

Some crystallization occurs, probably due to the cooking process, and the crystals tend to settle at the bottom, requiring a final straining a day after the juice is done.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

2009 Blog Name tribute

Jase: Our debut post in 2006 was about our grapevine and so is this one. I don't think Ruth even knew we had a blog then. But, we have lived in Clearlake for four years now. When we bought this house it had a little Concord grapevine that was pretty much just a stump. It takes a few years to train a vine and ours has developed well. We had a good harvest this year.

Here is Rachel with what's probably six gallons of grapes before they are sorted.

The grapes in the foreground are a little too pink. Ripe concords look a dusty blue color that changes to a shiny dark purple when you begin handling them.

The pink and the green grapes get thrown out of course. We wash, then mash the grapes, heat them in a pot till they boil, then heat and mash them for another ten minutes. Then we strain it overnight through cheese cloth into a bowl. The juice that drips off goes through a mesh strainer to get the remaining solids out.

The first year we lived here we just ate the grapes. I showed the girls how to find the ripe ones by looking under the leaves. I got paid back by finding grape skins and seeds all over our sidewalk.

Year two we actually made a 1/2 gallon of juice with the little bit of fruit we got. It turned out perfect! I was excited to do it again. The juice actually had to be diluted about 2.5 to 1 water to concentrate.

Year three I was impatient and picked the grapes before they were ready. The juice turned out sour and did not have a lot of flavor. I was disappointed even though we had a lot of grapes.

This year we've got lots of grapes. We waited as long as we thought was wise to harvest and the juice turned out much better than last year. We didn't have to dilute it much though. This batch of grapes yielded a gallon of concentrate that gave us 1.5 gallons of juice. Monday we will pick what's left and finish the juice making for this year.



Monday, September 21, 2009

a note

Jase: As I go through my day I often think "I should blog about that" when some thought crosses my mind. Whether its something fun I did, or about my wife or kids, or about our home or the area where we live. Since we live far from our families and old friends this is my preferred method of telling the stories of our lives (since I can edit and exaggerate and adjust history to my liking?). I wonder sometimes if I just do this to vent or complain. But I think I enjoy sharing so I can get a reaction from people, whether good or bad. And the boy in me likes to occasionally gross out the females who might read our blog.

I drive 23.6 miles to work everyday, the majority of it along the north shore of Clear Lake. The morning drive is beautiful for various reasons that have mostly to do with the pleasantness of a new day. The afternoon drive is not so pleasant right now and hasn't been for some time. Back in June the algae bloom began and turned the lake into a stinking toxic puddle. Some people said a sewer pipe broke but as far as I know that didn't happen. So all around the calmer water where the algae collect, a wonderful aroma wafts through the air. I wish I could share a little bit of it with over the internet but, alas, its just not possible yet. So if you want to know what it smells like in our town in the afternoon, crawl under your sink, take apart the p-trap, stick your nose in an open end of the pipe, and breath deep. Welcome to beautiful Lake County, California.

Here is a link to an article that answers some questions about the lake as well as some info on the effects of the algae bloom this year.http://redwood.sierraclub.org/lake/CLQ.A.htm

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Where are the tomatoes?

Ruth:

We planted our Cherry tomatoes a little late this year, so when we weren't harvesting that many I wasn't too worried. Well, now it's September and the tomato season is almost over. I was still wondering where my tomatoes were! Rachel has been such a wonderful helper this summer watering our garden, and I realized one day that it took her quite a while to turn off the water, so I asked her what took her so long and she told me that she was picking and eating cherry tomatoes! That crazy girl has been picking and eating them every time she waters! Little stinker! I guess we can consider that her pay for the watering job.

Jason: I think she was overpaid.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What are you going to do with your retirement time?

Ruth:
Again, another e-mail sent from a good friend:

Working people frequently ask retired people what
they do to make their days interesting.

Well, for example, the other day my wife and I went into town and
went into a shop. We were only in there for about 5 minutes.

When we came out, there was a cop writing out a parking ticket....

we went up to him and said,

'Come on man, how about giving a senior citizen a break?'

He ignored us and continued writing the ticket. I called him a Nazi turd.

He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having worn tires.

So my wife called him a butt-head.

He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first.

Then he started writing a third ticket. This went on for about 20 minutes.

The more we abused him, the more tickets he wrote.


Personally, we didn't care because we came into town by bus and
the car had an Obama sticker.

We try to have a little fun each day now that we're retired. It's important at our age.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Christopher's Birthday!

Ruth:
Our big boy turned Four on Monday, Sept. 7th! We had some friends over to share the cake and ice cream with us. He was so excited to have a train cake! The girls and I made a toy Dinosaur for him and they put together a treasure hunt to find the presents. The clues took us outside around the house and back to the living room where he found his gifts wrapped and set in the entertainment center. He had seen us working on the dinosaur, so he knew about that gift but he was astonished when he opened the gift with the track for the train that was on his cake. Every one enjoyed putting the track together and seeing the tiny Thomas chugging down the track. We spent the rest of the night listening to happy squeals as they watched the little engine that could!


After our friends had gone home and all the children were in their PJ's ready for bed, we all ventured outdoors to watch the space shuttle Discovery glide through the sky. When you watch the video you can't really tell how fast it's moving because I was trying to keep up with it. It was in our view for about four minutes. And the kids, as you can hear in the video had a ton of questions about it! I have yet to teach them about it for school credit, maybe I'll get to that tomorrow! We were happy to see such an awesome sight as a family and celebrate such a wonderful little person we have had the pleasure of having in our home for the last Four years! Love ya Buddy!

video

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Summer can't be over yet!

Why is it so much easier to sit down and read about what's happening in my family and friends lives? I guess I have a good excuse for NOT blogging as often anymore but I can't use the new baby reason forever! I had to take some extra time to recover this time around! Along with all the drama after his birth, I still had some retained placenta and had to have a D&C at six weeks postpartum. The bleeding continued on and off (Mostly on) for the weeks that followed and only stopped last week. Apparently that happens occasionally and I'm pretty sure it has played a part in postpartum depression for many women. I know I was feeling pretty crumby about it all. Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who has a very wet shoulder. I'm so glad to have him and his support. Now that I've probably spilled a little more information than anyone probably wanted to hear I'll get back to our fun summer!

It really has been quite a busy summer! Full of excitement! We've been keeping busy that's for sure! First with the addition of our sweet little David, his blessing, family gatherings, Liz and Cameron's wedding, at which I made their cake (pictures in a previous post) and it was delicious! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to make that fun cake Liz and Jameron! ;) Our family spent hot days playing in the sprinklers, the slip'n'slide, and taking every opportunity that we could to swim in swimming pools of friends. Because even though we live in Clearlake, there's no way any of us are going to set foot in that water that is anything but clear! We've played games together and visited the park a couple of times. We've celebrated a few birthdays. We've also enjoyed the company of good friends near and far! I feel that we have grown closer as a family and I truly can say that I've enjoyed having the kids home all summer. If you'd like to see pictures of all this fun please click on our photo bucket link to the right. I will try to add photos to this post later but it's not a top priority right now!

We started the first day of Home school today. Rachel in Fourth, Emily in Third and Kaitlin in Kindergarten. Rachel was so excited to get going and did her work mostly all by herself! Which worked great because Emily needed extra help and of course Kaitlin needed the most attention. The boys were ornery and fought too much. Which took my time from helping the girls and poor David had to wait a little too long for lunch (poor mommy too!) I know that these first few months will be the hardest and I hope I can do a good job for the girls. I just have to find that happy medium! Any ideas and suggestions would be very much appreciated!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Triumph

Last weekend we split our family up. Rachel & Emily went with Grandma & Grandpa Christensen to Utah for Liz & Cameron's reception there. Kaitlin stayed with the Chapman's. And we took our boys to visit our friends, Brett & Rachel and their kids in SoCal. We had a most excellent time enjoying their company and home, good food, and a fun trip to Knott's Berry Farm. After our Knotts trip we went to Chili's. Christopher fell asleep on the way and didn't wake up at the restaurant or until the next morning.

Mark (Ruth's borther) hitched a ride with for the trip south. We dropped him off at San Diego State University on Friday morning at the start of the weekend heatwave. Mark and I climbed the eight flights of stairs to his apartment on the first trip up because the lines for the elevators were so long. Once up the stairs was enough.

Sunday we went to church with our friends. All three boys fell asleep in sacrament. I wish that happened every week! One of not-so-enjoyable moments was the third hour of church when Christopher refused, including a few minutes of screaming, to go to class. This was becoming a common occurrence (without the screaming) so I made the entire hour as unpleasant as possible for him by making him stand against a wall with his arms folded or following me with his arms folded if I wanted to walk the halls. I was really hoping he would remember this for the next Sunday. On this particular day I had mistakenly taken him to my Sunday School class for the second hour, which reinforced in his mind that he would get his way.

All in all it was a great trip and we look forward to visiting our friends again.

Last Friday night I drove up to Goat Mountain to go deer hunting. It takes about 2.5 hours to get to the campsite. But nearing the top I noticed my car was making a noise in the driver side front wheel. It was a grinding/rubbing noise that seemed to occur with every revolution of the tire. I was kind of worried that the bearings were ruined. Being at the top of the mountain there wasn't anything I could do so I threw my bedroll out and slept under the stars.

I don't sleep very well under the stars. Stars keep my awake. And unless I have an air matress I don't sleep well in the outdoors. So I woke fairly often with a cold breeze blowing on my face and not very comfortable. I had a makeshift pillow that served me very well though.

My alarm clock woke me at 5:45 and I got up and had a quick breakfast of hot granola with milk. I drove back down the mountain a couple hundred yards to where I found a place where I could begin hiking and hunting. There are quite a few old logging trails on Goat mountain that I found and wandered around. At some point I got tired of hearing trail-riding motorcycles near me and went back to my car. Upon inspection of the wheel on my car I found the brake caliper had lost the lower bolt! I guess Honda Accords aren't meant for climbing mountains in. I found a small bolt in my car that fit in the hole enough to keep the caliper in position. With a wet swim diaper from my car I washed off the caliper and duct-taped the bolt in place. Driving back down the mountain I was glad to not hear the rubbing noise anymore! Once off the mountain I stopped at the first store I could to get a bolt that would actually thread into the hole.

So I headed towards home. I had to other places that I could stop and hunt at. So I stopped at about 1pm where our family had hiked before in the Cache Creek Wilderness. No rattlesnakes this time. It was a beautiful day and I walked several miles hunting and exploring since I had never seen most of the area except from Google Earth. Around 5pm I was heading back to my car, still a couple miles away. I knew I had a few more hours of daylight and was thinking to myself: This would be a good time to get a deer. I'm not exhausted yet and there's still plenty of light. In the next minute I stopped as looking down into a gully to my left I saw a grey body that looked a little too smooth to be a rock. I watched for a second, checked through the scope, and then moved a little closer. I again checked through the scope and saw a deer raise its head. I am a little disappointed because I can't tell if its a buck or not. Its standing in the shadows and keeping very still. It sees me but does not move right away. After half a minute it finally turns its head and I shoot. The mortally wounded dirt behind the deer didn't scream in pain or fall, and the apparently still-healthy deer took off running into the cover, never to be seen again, into the next county. I reflected on this on my walk back and realized there were several things I could have done differently. But then, I'm still learning. I'm glad I got a chance to shoot. It made my day and made the walk back to the car a little easier. Five months of office work and no exercise aren't a good work-up to the walk I took. I've got two more Saturdays. I'll go out again and stay close to home next time.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

from Liz's Wedding and other stuff

Here are some pictures of David. He's a tummy sleeper.His blessing outfit:
The Cake
Another shot of The Cake
Some of the sunflower we grew that were vertically challenged: