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Sweet and Spicy Salsa – Canning Recipe

Canning season is among us and I have been a bit overwhelmed with our garden bounties.  A good problem to have, yes, but trying to preserve it all in our tiny kitchen can be a bit of a challenge.   No lie, yesterday we had to wheel in my kids radio flyer wagon slapped full of fresh tomato’s bell peppers right into the kitchen.  On our last bounty I made some salsa and we loved it so much I decided to share the recipe here just in case you have tomato’s and peppers coming out of your ears like us.   This recipe is super easy to change and adjust to your tastes and by what you have on hand.  Its sweet with a little kick at the end.  Just the way we like it!

Here’s what you will need:

Gather 8 pounds of fresh tomato’s.


You will need to put the tomatos in a pot of boiling water for 60-90 seconds and then directly into an ice bath.  After they have cooled in the ice bath you will be able to peel the skins and take the cores out with ease.  I just use my hands and let the kids help (after I make sure they are completely cooled).  You will just squish them up by hand into a huge pot.

Now you will grab your peppers, onions and garlic.


chop them up and put them in a blender.  blend until smooth.  unless you like your salsa chunky…then pulse or chop.

Now you will your pepper mixture into your tomato’s.

Now you will add in your vinegar, spices, sugar, and tomato paste.


Let this simmer on the stove for 4 hours.  Your home will smell amazing!

Taste as it simmers and make any additions that suit your needs.  Mine was crazy hot since I added 3 cayenne’s so I ended up adding a few splashes of lemon juice to help balance the acidity.  If you are doing a milder salsa then you wont need to worry about that.

While its simmering, prepare your canning jars and sterilize them.  Pour hot salsa in to warm jars….about 1/4 inch from the top.  Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean cloth to make sure they are clean.  Top with lids and screw on rings just finger tight.

Salsa can be canned by using a water bath or a pressure cooker.  I prefer the pressure cooker so I processed my pints for 10 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

If you are doing a water bath then you will place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 10 to 15 minutes.

When ready, remove the jars from the stockpot or pressure cooker and place onto a cloth-covered or wood surface, several inches apart, until cool. Once cool, press the top of each lid with a finger, ensuring that the seal is tight (lid does not move up or down at all).  This can take up to 24 hours so try not to press up and down on the lids until they have cooled completely.  You will hear a ping when they are sealing.  This is a good thing!  Live for the PING!:)

Store in the pantry or cupboard until ready to open.

Refrigerate after opening.  and ENJOY!



8 pounds of fresh garden tomato’s

3 onions – a white, yellow, and red

2 banana peppers (if you want it mild) OR  we used 3 cayenne peppers to make it crazy hot.  You can adjust this here to match the heat you want.  Mix and match peppers and experiment!

3 bell peppers

3 garlic cloves

2- 12 ounce cans of tomato paste

1/2 cup of white vinegar

1 1/2 TBL salt

1 TBL cayenne pepper

1 1/2 Teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 cup brown sugar (or 1/4 cup if you don’t want it as sweet…if unsure try 1/4 cup, taste, and add more to taste)

1/2 cup white sugar  (or 1/4 cup if you don’t want it as sweet)

8 pint canning jars (I was able to save a little left over to have fresh with dinner)









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The First Day of Homeschool – 2014

I cant believe its time for another school year! This year, my girl is in 1st grade and my boy is starting pre k. Its a hard pill to swallow, watching them grow up so fast and all, but once again, I am so happy to be able to be at home to school them again. Homeschooling has been such a blessing (and a curse, depending on the day…just being honest yall), but overall its where I know I need to be. Last year, I took on the tradition of blogging what our day looked like and you can find that HERE. I love being able to look back to see how we have grown so I wanted to do it again this year. Im going to walk you through our day and since I really enjoyed shooting it I would really love to get into a better habit of blogging our homeschool adventures. I have been throwing the idea around about starting a homeschool blog, but I think just keeping it simple for now, and sharing our days here will be the best option for the time being. I hope you will follow along!:)(You can also follow our homeschool days on instagram @deannamccasland)

We switched curriculums again this year. After a ton of research we finally decided on Earthschooling. So far we are really enjoying it! I love the teacher guides and videos and the lessons are jam packed. They are also adding on a foreign language lesson and I am so excited to finally learn German! Just one of the benefits of homeschooling is I get to learn too! I wish it was a bit more organized by day, but if you don’t mind spending a little time planning then it is well worth looking into in my opinion. We fell in love with Waldorf schooling last year and we are really excited to continue learning and growing by that philosophy each year.

If you look up Waldorf, one of the main topics you will see come about is having a rhythm. A rhythm is not a schedule, but is a timeline on how our days should unfold. While it is a schedule in a sense, the times are completely lifted off and there is a sense of freedom and security for the child to guide themselves throughout their days. Our rhythm is looking a bit like this right now, but I’m always revaluating myself to make it better for my family.

Daily Rhythm:

I wake up at 5am

I have quiet/meditation time until 6am.

I start getting ready for the day and gathering my daily lesson plans and craft materials at 7am and do chores until the kids wake.

They are usually up by 7:30-8. Once they wake, we take a few moments to gather ourselves and then I get them dressed, brush teeth, etc…

We have breakfast around our table. Breakfast is brought to the center of the table and the children are able to fix their own plates and pour their own drinks. Even the 3 year old.

After breakfast we clean up, the kids do their own dishes and clear the table and we start our outdoor chores which is feeding animals, gathering eggs, etc…

We gather for circle time, start our main lesson, followed by a short lesson in the school room.

We break for a nature walk and come home to a snack.

The children then have a bit of free time while I gather materials for the afternoon lesson and crafts.

The children help with lunch and then we move into our afternoon lesson. Afternoon lessons rotate from science, history, and music.

This is followed by handiwork. Maddox just plays outside and Marleigh is learning to knit.  On our first day we made field trip shirts to wear on Fridays to make it a bit more special.

There’s then inside chores (this will change by our weekly rhythm listed below).

We have free time, followed by dinner prep, bath, free time/handiwork, and bed.

Our weekly rhythm is as followed:

Monday: Cleaning day – I like to start the week with a clean house. We catch up laundry, clean floors, bathrooms, chicken coop, etc…

Tuesday: Gardening day

Wednesday: Errands/Co-op meeting day

Thursday: Baking day

Friday: Field trip day

Saturday: Farm day (We spend the day as a family doing farm chores and anything that needs done around the house)

Sunday: Rest


Heres to another fabulous year of homeschooling! xo



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Our new family member

I have been a bit slack on keeping my blog updated with personal stories. I am trying to get in a better habit of keeping up with this. A lot has happened since I last posted anything so I wanted to jump in and first, fill you in on something that has been weighing heavy on my heart and secondly, to introduce our new family member.

A couple of weeks ago, our big old bloodhound had to be rehomed. It was a hard decision, but it was something we knew had to be done for our family. You see, on this morning….actually about 30 minutes after this photo was taken, Bocephus bit my son on the face really bad and we had to rush him to the ER for stiches. It was scary to witness. And while I don’t think it was a vicious attack by any means to simply hurt my son, it was enough to make us realize that we could no longer keep him. None of us wanted to see him go. He had become part of our family. I like to think about what our life would look like in 10-15 years and he was always in that vision. A big red hound, with a little gray around the eyes, laying sleepily on our porch. Our heart broke over the decision, but we didn’t want a 120 pound dog that we have to walk on egg shells around. I put up an ad and found him a good home and that was that.


Here are the stiches. This bite was 1/2 inches deep. The other side of his face also had a huge bite mark and he had to have his cheek glued shut. This boy here is a trooper though. He was in shock after it happened and of course screamed and cried, but as soon as we got to the ER he was brave. He took 2 shots to his face and the 4 stiches and never cried once. I couldn’t believe how tough he was!


I think about Bochephus every day. I still expect to see him running up to greet us as we get out of the car, I wait for him to come stand in the kitchen for me while I make breakfast in hopes that I drop a piece of bacon, and I still wonder when he is going to come jump in the bed at night and snuggle by my feet. Its hard to send a pet away to a new home and then get use to the new normal. Its like a piece of our family has died. We are the kind of family that needs a dog. Our home dosent feel right with out one.

So that brings me to introduce our new family member.


Meet June. Our English lab. We are smitten over her. She is in no way, shape or form here to replace Bocephus. But she does fill that hole that has been in our hearts since the day we had to send Bo away to his new home.

Heres to new adventures with this gal. Welcome to the family June bug!


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What Backyard Camping Looks Like

Summer has been busy.  There’s always a chore to do, an errand to run, and something or another pulling us all in opposite directions.  We sadly haven’t done a single trip or get away as a family all summer thanks to the tango of life always making us dance in opposite directions.  Saturday was once again another busy day, but we realized we needed to do something to be together, outside of the house, with no chores for just a few hours, and to simply just be with each other.  One of the sacrifices of living on a growing homestead is the chance to pick up and go on spur of the moment trips because there’s always a mouth that needs to be fed, some poop that needs to be scooped, and something that just needs done. So around 5pm on Saturday we realized for once, we didn’t have anything to do so we pitched a tent in the yard and had a family back yard camp out.

It wasn’t long.  It wasn’t a trip to the beach, and it wasn’t the camping trip I have had planned in my head all summer that we still haven’t gotten around to taking yet, but it was fun and it was time well spent just simply being together.

We cranked up the radio, started a fire, made campfire pizza and had smores with reeses cups for dessert.  There was farm fresh chocolate milk for the kids and rum and coke for the grown ups.  Served in mason jars of course.  The mountain air was cold all night and the ground was hard, but we were together and that was all that mattered.  The crickets and frogs serenaded us off to dream land and the morning sun coming up over the mountain woke us up with the crowing of our rooster.  We had sausage and eggs right from the coop for breakfast over the fire with a cup of strong coffee on the side.  We were surrounded by those we love most…even the ones with fur and feathers and we couldn’t have picked a better way to spend our weekend.

Here’s to many, many more boring nights on the homestead.

After you check it out, make sure to mosey around our crazy talented group…up next is the talented Suzanne Gipson


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What our summer days look like

I cant believe summer is half way over. We have been taking it easy this year since we did 2 huge vacations last summer. I have been missing our annual beach trip, but its been really nice staying home. The kids have been dancing to the beat of their own drums and its been a really beautiful experience to witness. Showers consist of getting sprayed with the hose, afternoons are full of 4 wheeler rides around the mountain, evenings are filled with lighting bug chasing, my house smells of zucchini bread baking, and everyday has been full of surprises when we check on our garden. We have had a few garden hiccups…like goats eating all of our strawberry plants and broccoli leaves…but overall we cannot complain of our daily abundance.

Please make your way around our little circle and visit the crazy talented Summer Murdock to see what she has in store for you this month.

July 22, 2014 - 3:17 pm

Danielle - Gorgeous gorgeous images as always! love how full of life and joy each and every image evokes. I spy my tea towel! So glad you are using it! They are going to cherish each and every one of these images for years to come.

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