Pickles: Vintage 2010

I've talked a lot about how much I love pickles. Last year I made my very first batch of homemade pickles. The process was very exciting, the pickles were delicious, and I've been waiting all year to make more!

This year I grew my own pickling cucumbers and the first harvest was Sunday. I had just enough little cukes to fill a half gallon jar - so I made the first batch of 2010. I spent a few hours trying to find the recipe I used last year. I thought I had pulled it out of one of my cookbooks, but after searching and stressing because I didn't really want to try a new recipe, I finally found the recipe online. I'm reluctant to post the recipe here because I'm not entirely sure these pickles will turn out as good as last year but...how bad can they be? They are Dill Pickles!
Dill Pickles
8 lbs of pickling cucumbers
4 cups white vinegar
12 cups water
2/3 cups pickling salt
16 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
8 sprigs fresh dill weed
8 heads of fresh dill weed

Wash/scrub cucumbers with produce brush and place in the sink with cold water and ice cubes. (I only did the ice cubes for one batch, the other I just used cold water). Soak for at least 2 hours but no more than 8 (again, I revised on this a bit).

Sterilize 8 (1 quart) canning jars and lids in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.

In a large pot boil the water, vinegar, and pickling salt.

In each jar, place 2 cloves of garlic, one head of dill and enough cucumbers to fill the jar (about 1 pound). Add one sprig of dill and fill the jars with hot brine. Seal jars, making sure you have cleaned the jar's rims of any residue.

Process sealed jars in a boiling water bath (for at least 15 minutes).

Store pickles for a minimum of 8 weeks before eating. Refrigerate after opening. Pickles will keep up to 2 years in the pantry if cool and dry.

My Favorite Color Is Shiny

The gutters are here! The gutters are here!

Hubby says when the guy came to install our new gutters, the whole job took less than 4 hours! If it seems weird that I'm so excited about gutters - it is. But I'm trying to remember the last 'brand new' item we've purchased for our house....and I can't. So I'm excited. We've got something new and shiny!

Now it's time for paint!


Shut The Front Door

We're getting so much closer to painting the entire house. I know, I know... you're probably thinking, what's taking so LONG!? It's just that with 1.25 people (hubby =1, me = .25) doing all of the prep work it's a project that's going the distance.

I'm trying to help where I can, it's just hard to find enough time. This past weekend, while hubby was doing paint prep, I decided to tackle the front door. Eventually we want a new door - but this one will have to make it at least a couple more years with a few coats of fresh paint.

So the door came off, the sander and primer came out, and I got to spend a few hours under the back patio in the rain. It was awesome.

The best part of painting in the rain is the humidity. We were scheduled to be on our way to a party at about 7pm on Saturday evening and by 6:45 the first coat of paint wasn't even close to dry. So we did what every handy couple does - we busted out the blow dryers! Thankfully, I have two and it only took us 15 minutes to get the edges dry enough to hang it back up.

After I finished the second and third coats on Sunday, hubby took the ugly old metal screen door off and then our neighbors ooh'd and ahh'd about our fancy new door. Yah! That's my .25 contribution for the week!


In The Gutter

Now that the soffit vents have been replaced and look fresh and new, hubby decided we should also replace the fascia and gutters before we paint the house. I don't know if any of you out there have had your gutters replaced - but we had bids ranging in price from $1300 - $7200. When the higher bid came in I think I might have said something to the affect of, "Are you KIDDING? We can't afford that!? We're gonna have to go gutterless! Is that even a word?"

What ultimately brought the price of the bids down was to negotiate doing the gutter and fascia removal and disposal and install the new fascia ourselves. And you know by now that when I say 'we', what I really mean is hubby and friends.

For this project Matt and Kyle were volunteered by their wives. Which is awesome - because they (the wives) feel like they'll benefit someday from the knowledge their hubbies are learning now, and we feel like we benefit now. It's totally win-win, right?

The craziest part of the whole project happened right after they started removing the gutters. They were working in the back of the house and started to tear off one section...and then Voila! a gutter section half the length of the house came off. This house remodel thing is way easier than it looks!

At the end of the day everything looked great. New fascia has been installed and is ready for us (this time I really mean me) to paint it this weekend. The only thing left of the 'old' is the pile of gutters in the back yard waiting to go to the transfer station. Saving us (if you take into account the high bid) almost $6000!!


Mary Mary Quite Contrary,

How does your garden grow?

with cucumbers (for pickling!)

and kiwi (the vine climbing the trellis)

and tomatoes (that started as puny one-stem plants that have now taken over half the garden boxes)

We've harvested about 5 heads of lettuce, a small head of broccoli, and 3 little asparagus stems. We're also growing beans, celery, brussels sprouts, tomatillo, beets, pumpkin, zucchini, raspberries, and blueberries.

Hubby thinks our water bill will be a lot. He said, pointing to one small tomato, "That little tomato is going to cost $23 dollars!" It might. But I think it has been super cool watching my very first garden grow.

And considering this is what the 'garden' looked like just 5 months ago and (a year ago, further below), we've come a LONG way!

Final Four

It's official! We're so close to painting that we've actually narrowed it down to 4 colors. It's hard to tell from the picture but here's the final four (clockwise from red):
1. dark 'Smoked Paprika' red/cream trim
2. dark 'Hale Navy' blue/cream trim
3. dark 'Cracked Pepper' gray/cream trim
4. light 'Lost Summit beige-ish/chocolate trim

What do you think?