Teaching Good Things

Practical Skills for Real Life

Teaching Good Things - Practical Skills for Real Life

Canning for Gift Giving

The harvest has been plentiful this year which means we can get a lot of great produce at a reasonable price. This makes for a perfect time for canning a little extra to give as gifts this Christmas.

Canning for Gift Giving

They are also great to have on hand to give as a hostess gift, in a basket as part of a bridal shower gift or even to take as part of a care package for someone who is sick.

So whether canning or even baking up some goodies that freeze well, think about doing a little extra to give away or to have on hand when you need something in a hurry.

Any of these wrapped in a towel, or a ribbon, in a gift bag, or simply with a creative label will make a nice homemade gift.

A few things I’ve canned extra of are:

salsa recipe canning

Give alone with a ribbon around the jar or put in a gift bag and include a bag of chips. Recipe Here.

pepper jelly

Another one to give alone or with a package of crackers and cream cheese.

This is wonderful poured over a block of cream cheese and served with crackers for holiday parties. I’ve also used it over a roast in the crockpot. Although it is a jelly, it is not thick like most jellies. Recipe Here.

honeysuckle jelly

Jams and Jellies given alone, with crackers or bread are always easy to make and always loved! How-to video here.

make blackberry syrup

This year I made blackberry syrup.  These will be great to give with a large ziplock bag of homemade waffles.

food to the sick

Canning Jam in 30 Minutes

Learn Cake Decorating

Planning Your Pantry 

Basic Canning Supplies 

Grandma Brodock’s Sweet Pepper Relish

Canning Banana Peppers

Pepper Jelly Recipe for Canning

pepper jelly

This is wonderful poured over a block of cream cheese and served with crackers for parties. I’ve also used it over a roast in the crockpot.

Warning: Although this is a jelly, it is not thick like most jellies. You need to follow the instructions carefully.

  • 3/4 lb to 1 pound of peppers
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 2 cups of 5% apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 3 packets of dry pectin (using the no-sugar pectin gives the best results).

Detailed explanation of how to make this with pictures Go Here.

is canning worth it

Planning Your Pantry 

Basic Canning Supplies 

Grandma Brodock’s Sweet Pepper Relish

Canning Banana Peppers

Salsa Recipe for Canning

salsa recipe canning


 Makes about 8 pints of salsa… which is nowhere near enough!!! :)

  • 3 quarts of prepared chopped tomatoes (I used my food processor for all the tomatoes, onions and peppers to give it a smoother restaurant style texture.)
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 6 jalapeño peppers, seeded, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 six-ounce cans tomato paste 
  • 2 cups bottled lemon or lime juice  or lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro 

Simmer for 30 minutes, then process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes. 

For a very detailed explanation on how to prepare this, including pictures, go here.

  Pineapple Cucumber Salsa

is canning worth it


Basic Canning Supplies 

Grandma Brodock’s Sweet Pepper Relish

Canning Banana Peppers

Learn Cake Decorating

Wedding Cakes and Family Business

Last weekend Olivia and I were vendors at a local bridal show.  It was fun to meet so many brides and their family and friends. I also had a great time making connections with other vendors.

For this show we represented the place Olivia is chef at (while she works towards her dream). They contract me out for their cakes and out-of-house catering. This allows me an industrial kitchen when I need it (most cakes I can do from home) and the catering licence.


On Saturday Cherish, Peach and I went to set up our booth.  Ya know… it IS a lot of work, but I love that I can do this WITH my kids and I can do it from home. My kids are learning about many aspects of business from product creation, to customer relations, to the sale.


I’m not just dragging them around with me, they are part of the family business. Cherish is developing a good eye for what looks good and becoming much more hands on with me. She is a detail and numbers girl, which are areas I am weak in.  I see us making even a better team as she gets older.


We always included our older kids in all of our many ventures while they were growing up, and now… they are far exceeding what we have done. I love when Olivia and I can work events like this, or work a wedding together. We know each other and have different strengths and weaknesses that work good together.


Yes, it’s hard and about 95% of it is NOT glamorous. It’s long hours. It’s constant cleaning up messes and hauling heavy loads.

Yes, there are always issues that have to be resolved, personal conflicts, etc… but don’t we deal with that in any “job”?  I’d rather be fleshing it out with my family as we build a future together.

Maybe if more families worked together while the children are growing up they would be closer? Stronger? Happier?  Maybe… maybe not.  But I do believe that their marketable skill level would be greater and that kids would understand the value of a dollar and hard work.

Think about it… kids that grow up on a farm know how to work and work hard. Sad we’ve lost most of our family operated farms.

Kids that grow up with their families owning and running a business know the blood, sweat and tears that go into it… usually.  That is unless they are shuffled away to a classroom all day, shielded from real life, from real work. Unless they only reap the rewards of mom and pop’s hard work with vacations, cars, clothes, iphones, all paid college life, etc… with no real time or labor invested.

Why are we as a culture lacking character, work ethic, honesty? Perhaps it’s our own doing because we have created this insane, self-centered bubble for kids to grow up in, forcing them to really believe’ it is about them’, their wants and their comfort as we keep them far from reality, the reality of lasting relationships and the responsibility of hard work? The reality that there is no free ride in life.


wedding cake

Taggie Blanket for Baby in 30 Minutes – Video Tutorial

javi 5.5 months

Sweet Thing is starting to get some control of her hands now which means she wants to touch everything!

tag blanket baby

So today I made her this and appliqued her name on it.

I saw this taggie on Amazon for $35 – goodness! This took me less than $5 to make and about 30 minutes. I’m glad I have some basic sewing skills. :)

baby tag blanket

She thinks everything is a teething ring… everything!


She makes my heart sing!!!

Here is a video how to make one:

why you should quilt


Chocolate Banana Bread Recipe

ripe bananas

We came across a real good deal on ripe bananas and decided it was time to make some banana bread for the freezer. This recipe is so good! I love having several loaves in the freezer to pull out for company or even to take for someone who is struggling or for a hostess gift. I wrap mine individually and then place in a freezer ziplock.

This is a great recipe for  beginners. I showed Cherish (10) how to make the first batch and she made the remaining 3 batches without me.


chocolate banana bread

Chocolate Banana Bread 

Sift in a bowl:

  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt

Mix in another bowl:

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 stick butter, melted and cooled
  • 3-4 ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 1 t. vanilla extract

Add the banana mixture into the dry ingredients, be careful not to over-mix.

Gently mix in:

  • 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Grease your loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 65 minutes until the bread has risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely before wrapping.

High School Students, Listen Up – 5 Things Before You Graduate

advice graduation

1. Have a Plan

It does not have to be a grand, change the world kind of plan, but you do need a plan.  You are an adult now, so it’s time to make some adult decisions.

And if you are a girl, your plan can not be to sit and wait for Prince Charming. You need a set of goals to keep you driven, whether you are a stay at home daughter or not. 

Decide on what you want to do, make a timetable with reasonable deadlines to make it happen and start pursuing it immediately.

Want to be a Doctor? What kind? What kind of schooling will you need? Have you talked to other professionals in the field?

What to be a farmer? What do you need to know and own to do so?

Find opportunities to shadow or apprentice in that field to see if that is what you really want to do.

You may change your direction as time goes on, but don’t waste your time floating – doing nothing.

2. Don’t assume because school is out you don’t have to pursue education.

College or not, the end of high school simply means that no one will be holding your hand in education.

You have to decide what it is you want to learn and you have to pursue it. Self-directed education should have been instilled in you before this point, but if it hasn’t, it’s time for you to step up.

3. Sink Your Roots into a Church

You’re an adult now. You can do what you want right? Yes and no.

If you want to be successful you need some accountability. Create checks and balances for yourself.

If you have good parents start there. Fill an elder or pastor in on your plan. Ask him to hold you accountable. They’ll be happy to, I promise.

Now, sinking roots means you plan to stay. You need a church/small group/friend base that will encourage you to do the right thing even when the wrong way looks like a short cut.

You won’t always like them, but you must determine to stay. Don’t establish a life pattern of walking away when things get tough.  If you are going to make it in this world you need to know how to keep a commitment!

4. Find Somewhere to Volunteer

You need this to keep you grounded. To remind you no matter how tough things are that it could be worse. To remind you that the world does not revolve around you and your problems.

Find a soup kitchen, a pregnancy center, a rehab facility, needy families in your community, tutor struggling kids, join a volunteer fire department… something that requires hard work and dedication without pay.

5. Employ Yourself

Whether you live on your own or at home, start your own business or find a job.  There is no reason for you not to be bringing in some sort of income.

If you have a plan you should find a job or start a business that advances said plan.  Consider using your hobby as a starting point for a business.

For example: I want to own a cooking school. First I have to become a chef. So right now I’m working in a gourmet sandwich shop during the day and at a BBQ joint as a prep cook/ aboyeur at night while saving the money to pay for a cooking school I want to attend in Ireland.

Finding a job is a stepping stone to what you ultimately want to be doing will keep you from burnout. When the days are hard, the work dirty and the hours long, I think Ireland. This is all for Ireland. And then the school. I’ll get there, but I have to get through this first.

Those are my top five suggestions for the high school graduate. Here’s the deal, if you don’t know where you want to go, you’ll never get there.

Life is precious, life is short, make a plan.

Make it BIG! Or small, just do it!

Follow the plan.

Don’t waste your years.


Olivia is a homeschool graduate, author of No More Wasted Years and chef at The Three Earred Rabbit.

She is working towards her goals of owning a cooking school and catering business, in hopes of her ultimate goal of teaching young girls that are aging our of foster care, a love for Christ and food while equipping them with a practical and marketable skill to help break the cycle of government dependence and broken families.