How To Be An American

Sep11th1I only have little ones, right now. Two 20-month-olds, to be exact. And while I know it’s too early for patriot stories, and lessons on territory disputes, and tea parties (the Boston kind)–I know it’s never too early to start teaching little souls what really matters. Like courage, and respect, and bravery. It’s not too early for them to learn reverence for solemn things, and love for people who sacrifice. Even if they aren’t in a developmental place where they can comply with the teachings, those sweet babies notice when I stop and feel. They notice, and to my amazement, generally reflect my mood. They feel. And so, when we speak of things like wars, and remembrances, of towers and countries, and constitutions, I want my sweethearts to understand how much was paid for them to enjoy the life they have. I want them to grow up with a profound sense of gratitude, and a knowledge of how and why their country works. Sep11th3

I am a part of a generation that says a lot, and does very little. Especially in the political arena. We protest, we complain, we bash, we YouTube. And yet, I find that when I actively question many of my peers on the issues they are protesting, or supporting, they have a very finite understanding of how this country works. Of why this country works. Many of them have never even read the constitution, or know how many branches of government we have. Sep11th5

I want my children to know. To know the heritage they are a part of. The country that they must be actively engaged in maintaining. And so far, I’ve found that the best way to teach them is by example. Sep11th2

Today, I’m going to learn a little bit more about this place I call home. I’m going to say a prayer of thanks for those who have gone before. I’m going to remember those who fell, whether on this day 6 years ago, or in the centuries preceding.Sep11th4

And hopefully someday they’ll see my example, and fold their arms, too.

~ April


Week 26 Food Storage Prompt: 100 lbs. wheat

Blanching: A Tutorial


Because if you, like me, are drowning in tomatoes…

And if you, like me have ever had someone say “Blanche? What are you talking about?”

Or even worse, make a reference to a grouchy retiree from an old tv sitcom…

Then this little tutorial is for you. Or them. Or both of you.

So. Blanching. It’s a really quick and easy way to get the skins off of soft-skinned fruits. Think peaches, apricots, plums, tomatoes.

Apparently, it’s also used to prepare some vegetables for canning–but since I’m scared of canning vegetables, well, I can’t say I’ve ever used it that way.

Here are the details:

Step 1: Fill a large stock pot about 2/3 full of water. Put on to boil.


Step 2: Wash your tomatoes (or other fruit).


Step 3: Place tomatoes in a metal sieve, colander, or steamer basket. My stock pot came with this awesome piece, which is dead useful. The main thing is that your basket needs to be deep enough to completely submerge your tomatoes in the boiling water–as well as have a handle that you can use to pull them out without getting burned. Alternately, if you don’t have a colander that will work, you could drop the tomatoes in the water, and then fish them out with a slotted spoon. This will work, of course, but I wouldn’t suggest it, because if you’re anything like me, there are just too many ways to splash boiling water when you’re trying to drop them in and fish them out. In addition, when you blanch something, you don’t want to cook it, you just want to flash cook the skin so it will come off. The time it takes to fish all the tomatoes out will likely take long enough that your tomatoes will be cooked, at least partially. It’s more messy to peel cooked tomatoes, but if you’re using them in something that will be cooked anyway, it will still work.


Step 4: Submerge the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10-15 seconds.


Step 5: Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water, let drain and cool for several minutes.

Step 6: Cover your working area with a clean kitchen towel. This prevents getting a tomatoey mess all over your counter, as well as helps your working area have a little more traction. Peeled tomatoes are slippery.


Step 7: Using a sharp paring knife, make a slit in the skin of the tomato.


Step 8: Slide the skin off.


Now your tomatoes are ready for sauces, salsas, or bottling!


Using the kitchen towel is also great because you can just fold it up, and your counter is clean again. Remember to rinse your towel well so it doesn’t stain.Blanching09




In the next few days, I’ll be chronicling my adventures with salsa. I’ve already made one batch, my first time. While it’s pretty good, it’s not salsa-y enough for me. Tastes kinda like slightly flavored tomatoes. SO, you seasoned salsa makers, tell me what you know: does salsa need to sit for a while and mix flavors? Should I open up a jar and try it now, a week later to see if I like the flavor better? Should I start over with a new recipe, and if so, do you have one I can try?

~ April


Please! Share your salsa stories and recipes!

Ground Cheerios Anyone?

Here is a puddle that I am overjoyed to appreciate.


Of course, there is a big mess to clean up.

holding bowl

But really, not so big in the long run.


And besides, I have a chorus of baby giggles to serenade me, and chubby fingers learning how to clean up.


And most important of all, best friends in the making.


It’s all about perspective, ladies.

Have a wonderful day.

PS While my Mom is having technical difficulties at her house (I won’t mention what problems she’s having, only that it has to do with her internet and a certain company’s less-than-advertised “spirit of service”…) I’m charged with keeping you all entertained. Hopefully she’ll be back to her regularly scheduled antics tomorrow.



Congratulations to Dot Mitchell!

She is the winner of the Gracious Rain & Sassyfruit Studios giveaway! (Since we had such a great response, I drew a winner both here, and on my site …so make sure you check there too, if you didn’t win here.)

Her comment was:

Oh, April’s site is super cool and fun!!! I love it. I wish her the best of luck and hope that I might win the giveaway because I have looked for a background to fit my Dots and Clovers blog… and it does not exist as far as I can find. I wish her luck and will tell people about her.

Dot: I’m blushing! Thanks for the sweet comments! email me (April) at: and give me all the details, and let’s make your blog bee-you-tiful!

For the rest of you, I’m sorry you’re sad, but here’s your consolation prize:

Sassyfruit Studios is offering 15% off to anyone who contacts me before the 16th (that’s this Saturday!) to start a custom design! Just mention Gracious Rain! Click here to get started, or email

Thanks for playing everyone!