Thursday, August 29, 2013

Harvesting Corn

'Tis the season to begin harvesting our garden goodies!

We planted our garden a little late this year due to the cold weather and since we needed some extra time to get passed the wedding and vacations. Now it's finally starting to produce veggies!

The majority of what we have gotten is corn from our first planting. We plant a couple rows and then a couple weeks later we plant a couple more rows. That way it gives us time to harvest in betwen.  


It is SO easy to prepare and freeze sweet corn! I don't know about anyone else, but we LOVE taking sweet corn out of the freezer over the winter time!

You will need:
. Ball Blue Book .
. Large Kettle .
. Strainer/Wire Rack/Tongs .
. Freezer Bags/Containers .
. Marker to label container .
. Electric Knife/Corn Zipper .
. Empty sink full of ice cold water .

My favorite guide book for harvesting is the Ball Blue Book. You can get it at most local stores that carry canning items (such as Meijers, Walmart, Target). I recieved mine from my Aunt who has taught me lots about harvesting! It's very simple to find what you need and steps are easily written. There's also lots of information about different ways to preserve!

How to blanch and freeze sweet corn:
1. Remove the husk and strings from each ear of corn
2. Bring a large pot/kettle of water to a boil (the information on blanching actually gives exact measurements on how many gallons of water needed per weight of food - I've honestly never measured though!)
3. Once the water is at a rapid boil, slowly drop the corn in and cover. If you have a wire basket or strainer insert, that is also recommended so it is easier to remove the corn at once. I do it the hard way and add/remove them one at a time.
4. Blanch - Set the timer for 5-6 minutes (according to the BB Book)
5. As soon as timer goes off, the blancing step is complete! Remove the corn from the pot either using tongs or the wire basket 
6. Immediately place the corn in ice cold water so it doesn't continue cooking
7. Once the cob is cool enough to handle, begin removing the kernals off the cob and into a large bowl. I love using my Pampered Chef Corn Zipper if I'm just doing a couple cobs. Otherwise when we do a large batch, I prefer the electric knife! Which we got off our wedding registry from Kohls!
8. Once you removed all the corn off the cob, you can begin dishing it into freezer ziplock baggies or freezer containers. I always label mine with the date so we be sure to eat the oldest first.
7. Place in the freezer!

Waaaaalah! Just like that, you harvest sweet corn and can enjoy it year round! Enjoy!

I would post pictures of the steps and products I use if I would have thought about it last night. But I think ya'll are smart enough to figure it out! :)

Happy Harvesting!


XO
~Julie~



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Survivor's Guilt

Have you ever been the last one standing and felt guity leaving the other people behind?

It could be caused by many things... from surviving a traumatic accident, a war, a natural disaster caused by Mother Nature, a death, to even just playing a competitive game. Or in my case, being one of four employees that are left emplyoed after five other co-workers are informed that they will no longer have a job.

It's hard to recognize the fact that I'm a valued employee when I feel the heartbreak for the others. It's hard to be happy to have a job when there are so many unanswered questions. So much shock. It's hard to convince myself that it's not my fault and it's not a consequence of my personal actions. It's business. And a business must make decisions that are best for the future of the business.

This is how it all went down...

We had a mandatory meeting after work for both offices in this area. None of us knew what it was about. Of course we talked to each other about how curious and nervous we were to find out what it was about.

 As soon as I seen that an employee from human resources was there, my stomach dropped and I started shaking. I knew it wasn't going to be good news. I also knew they weren't going to fire anyone with all of us there. I had a bad feeling it was going to be that the one of the offices was closing.

They gathered us in a group and told us they were doing some evaluating and restructuring of the organization and they have come to the conclusion of closing one of our offices - the one I work at. 

Then they spilt us into two groups and named off who was in each group and told us they would discuss it further in smaller groups. One group was going to be offered a job at the office that remains open and the other group was being informed that they will no longer have a job.

I am the only one from my office that is being offered a job at the the other office. I won't know more about that until Monday.

There were a total of 5 people that were let go. Two of them were from my office and the other three were from the other office. Out of those 5 people, 2 of them had been employed there for 18 years. One of them had been there for 11 years, and the other two had between 4-7 years in.

It is so sad to experience something like this. I'm still at a loss for words. This quote best describes how to get through my feelings of survivor's guilt...

Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess... just breathe and have faith that everything will work out for the best.

I came home from my meeting to this note on the driveway written in chalk by my litte sister. It was exactly what I needed.
 
~ Julie ~
XOXO

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Regrets

Since returning home from vacation, I have been nonstop catching up around the house, garden, laundry, and life in general!

I can't believe that Michael and I had our 1st month anniversary as husband and wife this past week! Crazy how fast time flies....

In between the busy-ness of catching up, I've had had some time to sit back and think about some things that I would have done differently in the past year or so with planning a wedding. I just thought I would share what I learned! It also helps to get it off my mind too!

- When you get engaged, I know it's exciting to start planning! But if your like me and you have a long engagement, WAIT to pick your bridal party! Take into consideration who you KNOW will be a part of your life forever and who has been there for your through thick and thin. Also, keep in mind, that people change! A wedding truly does bring out the best and worst in those you never thought could change. I also never took into consideration that I would want to add a "newer" friend who had become such a great friend... Which was sad to look back and tell her I wish you were a part of my wedding! And most importantly, don't feel obligated to put someone in your bridal party because they tell you they want to. Or because you used to be best friends. Or because you were in their wedding. Looking back, I picked my bridesmaids way too soon. I was arguing with one of my best friends at the time and I didn't give her the title she deserved. All because of a typical arguement betwen the 2 of us. I should have known I would have changed my mind as soon as we kissed and made up! Then there was the friend that caused more stress than I could handle which caused me to ask her to step down. That was harder to do than anything. If you have to second guess putting someone in your wedding or what title you would like to give them, let some time pass before you make your decision... because having regrets of someone being given the wrong title or even feeling that it would be best to ask someone to step down it is extremely emotional. I experienced both of those feelings and trust me, it was stressful, emotional, and frustrating. The bottom line is, I realized who was truly there for me and who was more concerned with themself. Some did what a bridesmaid is expected to do, some went above and beyond, and others didn't do a damn thing no matter how much direction they were given.

- Give yourself plenty of time to get ready and take pictures throughout the evening! I totally regret not having our wedding earlier in the afternoon and not having enough time in between the ceremony and reception to take pictures. Which therefore meant we kept leaving the reception to go take pictures since we hadn't gotten many before the reception. Which in turn meant we were taking time away from visiting our guests and dancing!

- In addition to having plenty of time for pictures, I really suggest doing a first look with the bride and groom! I've heard nothing but great stories from those who have had a first look! I would have loved to had a first look for many reasons! One being that it would have saved us some time at the reception for when we had disappeared to take pictures. Most importantly, I think I wouldn't have had so much anxiety built up. People say "Oh, you will want to see his face when he sees you coming down the aisle." Guess what? I don't recall seeing his face because I was a quarter mile away and I can't see that far! So his first sight of me, we didn't have eye contact. He seen me from afar. And by time I got close enough to lock eyes with him, "that look" on his face probably wasn't as intense as the inital look on my face. Not to mention that I was so worked up (excited, nervous, anxious, suffocated in my dress) that I could barely focus! My remembrance of going down the aisle consists of this:
** Heavy (very heavy) breathing **
** My Dad asking me if I'm going to be okay **
** More heavy breathing **
** A friend in the back row giving me the rockstar symbol **
** Me telling my Dad to SLOOOOOW down **
** Chewing on gum like a cow **
** Big breaths in.... and out... Repeat. **
** Oh there's Michael! Look he did listen to me and gel his hair! He cleans up so nice! **
** Music in the background **
** A couple more heart racing and breathing heavy moments **
** My Dad giving me away **
** Michael practically dragging me to the alter because I couldn't move that fast **
** And then relief! **
The bottom line is that until I got to the alter and was next to Michael, I had terrible anxiety and focused so much on not crying, passing out, and breathing. I feel as if we had a first look, I would have been more relaxed!     

- Have a list of MUST HAVE pictures to give your photographer and request that he/she doesn't leave until they are all completed! I did give my photographer a list and she loved it! However, a very important one on the list was missed... I didn't get a picture with each individual bridesmaid. To this day, I am still devestated about it. My mind was so busy that I never thought about it. But I can't believe someone else didn't realize it. Especially out of 7 bridesmaids!

- Bring your own camera to the reception! I did not get any pictures with my guests because I didn't think to bring my phone or a small camera. Some of those people I see on a yearly (if that) basis. Not to mention that it was a once in a lifetime picture moment. A group picture of all the grandkids would have been nice... or us with our aunts and uncles, or us with our God parents, or a group picture of all my high school girlfriends because Lord knows we're never together at the same time anymore. Yes, I am a picture fanatic. If you are too, do yourself a favor and bring a camera to take your own fun/random pictures throughout the evening. Or maybe ask a friend to take some photos for you!

- Designate someone to help set up the last minute details!! My florist came a couple hours before the wedding and I had ordered some extra flower stems to put around some of the centerpieces. I did this to save money and taking care of the centerpieces myself was a huge cost cutter. However, I didn't think about the "time" it was going to take to set those last minute flowers up. So when us girls all got to the hall to get dressed, I also had to find time to cut the flower stems and place there where I needed them. No one knew exactly what I was envisioning or what pictures I had gotten ideas from, therefore, I was running around doing them on my own. Eventually, one of the bridesmaids understood the look I was going for and took over for me. Next thing I knew, an hour had went by. I wish I would have thought to designate someone to take care of the final details of set up!

- Along with set up, clean up is just as important! I never discussed clean up with anyone, therefore, no one else thought about it or knew what to do. As I spent my last half hour dancing the night away, I was either stopped and asked what I wanted done with this or that... or I had to leave the dance floor to go help. No one knew what went where, what was mine and what wasn't, or what stayed on the tables and what didn't. The few people that wound up figuring it out and took care of it, did a fabulous job! It was definitely my fault for not discussing this with my maids or the groomsmen beforehand!

- Photobooth's are great! We loved ours and so did our guests! However, if your going to have one, put it close to the dance floor rather than across the room. Because if people are going to spend their time around the photobooth, they are definitely not going to keep walking back and forth to go to the dancefloor!

- Stick to your budget! I don't have any regrets for the cost of our wedding because we did cut corners as much as possible and I definitely love every aspect of things we spent money on! But just a reminder that the day flies by and the money flies out the window just as fast! It's easy to spend a lot of money on a wedding, but keeping it within budget is definitely a good idea! :) Looking back, I am glad that we didn't spend the money on certain things that I originally thought that I "had to have". Such as chair covers, a horse and carriage, centerpieces made by a florist, aisle decorations for the ceremony, hors d'oeuvres for cocktail hour, etc. We minimized or excluded as much costs as we could and I'm glad we did!

Phew! That seems like a lot! I hope my thoughts and suggestions help future brides planning their special day! If you made it through all of my blabbing, thanks for reading!

~ Julie XO ~