Homemade Dill Pickles

Disclosure: I received products for review to facilitate this post. Affiliate links are contained herein. The opinions are my own.

Homemade Pickles

With summer harvests comes the opportunity to can.  I love pickles, and my husband loves pickles, pickled okra, pickled peppers, pickled sausages…you get the idea!  So after I received some Ball Jars to review, it seemed like the perfect time to do some pickling!  If you have the right recipe, homemade pickles are hard to beat!  And they also make great gifts for holidays, housewarmings, hostess gifts, or just a simple gesture of kindness to a friend or neighbor.

Today I’m going to share a few jar options available from Ball, and I’ve got a great pickle recipe for you!  In the recipe instructions, you’ll also find tips for sterilizing your jars before use, tips about product shelf life, and more!

Ball has a great variety of products available for your canning needs. I received the following: Ball Sharing Jars, Smooth Sided Jars, 32 oz Amber Jars, 16 oz Amber Jars.

The smooth sided jars look very cute and perfect for jellies and jams, and yes, even pickles!

The amber jars are great because they block out 99% of light, to ensure optimum quality of product.

The Sharing Jars have a unique shape and look great for gift giving or for your crafting needs.

Today’s recipe is one that my husband and I just sort of threw together.  I wrote down the ingredients as we made the pickles, crossing my fingers that the pickles would turn out good, and they did!

This brine also works well for making pickled okra.  My hubs like his pickled okra hot and spicy, so for those jars, we added the jalapeno slices and peppercorn flakes before adding our vegetables.



Do you can?  I’d love to hear what you can, and if you have a recipe please share it with me in the comments or tag me on social media!

Why We Love and How We Use Fresh Produce

Why We Love and How We Use Fresh Produce

Summer time brings so many opportunities for cook outs and picnics with family and friends, and one thing that makes these events even more special is that we can use fresh ingredients.  When you get ready to make a salad or a homemade fruit pie, do you ever think about where your ingredients come from? [Read more…]

Interview with Shelf Reliance Consultant Misty Marsh – Part 2

Here’s part 2 of my interview with Consultant Misty Marsh.  This interview is about the products of Shelf Reliance and some tips for new customers.
Q: How do the products at Shelf Reliance compare to products that we buy at the store (in terms of taste, quality, and shelf life)?
THRIVE foods are incredible.  They truly are delicious.  They taste just like the products you buy at the grocery store.  I use them daily in casseroles, pizza, enchiladas, soups, baked good, etc with absolutely no difference in taste.

They are also much easier to use than fresh product from the grocery store.  All the meats are pre-cooked.  All the vegetables are pre-cut. The cheese is pre-grated.  I save enormous amounts of meal prep time by using these products.  No more time spent browning beef, shredding chicken, chopping veggies or grating cheese.  I also spend less time cleaning up: fewer prep jobs means fewer dishes!

The nutrition of THRIVE freeze dried produce is actually superior in many cases to that of the produce you find in the grocery store.  Grocery store produce is typically picked before it is ripe (before all the nutrients have developed), and often forced to ripen with hormones.  Then, before you eat it, it sits in a truck to get to the store, sits at the store, then sits in your fridge losing nutrients.

On the other hand, THRIVE produce is harvested as peak freshness and immediately freeze dried.  The freeze drying process does not change the nutritional content of the food, it simply removes the water and oxygen.  So, all the nutrients that were in the food at it’s peak freshness remain until you open the can and enjoy the product.

In addition, freeze dried products need no preservative or additives: no added salt or sugar to maintain their average 20 year shelf life.

Q: Does Shelf Reliance offer any products for people with special dietary restrictions such as low fat or gluten-free?

All of the produce is fat free making it an ideal (easy, healthy and delicious) snack to eat right out of the can.  In addition, there are many items that are MSG, GMO and Gluten free.

Q: Are the foods easy to prepare?

Yes!  These are foods that you will use in your everyday cooking and they will save you time.  All the meats are precooked, all the produce is pre-cut / chopped.  The cheese is pre-grated. Simply add water.  In addition, there is a recipe on the back of every can,  a cookbook available, and recipes on the Shelf Reliance website.  I also keep a blog where I regularly post recipes and tips for using these products in your everyday cooking. 
Q: For someone who’s just starting their own food storage, the massive list of products can be overwhelming.  What’s the best place to start?
I suggest using this worksheet to decide which product would be most beneficial for your family.
Q: What is the Q?

The Q is an innovative online program that helps you create your own home grocery store. It will help you build a supply of delicious THRIVE food at your own pace and budget. By following three easy steps, you will be able to create and manage a food plan that is customized to your family. This plan will set up a queue of THRIVE food.  Items from that queue that fit within a pre-set budget that you set will be shipped to your home each month.

Q: What is your recommendation for people who want to start doing food storage, but are on a tight budget?

(1) Use your food storage in your everyday cooking!  If you actually use your food storage on a regular basis, then it can replace some of your groceries.  In other words, you don’t have to increase your grocery budget, you simply reallocate a portion of it to food storage.  THRIVE foods are perfect for this because they are incredibly easy to use in your everyday recipes.  You can find many such recipes on my blog: Your Own Home Store
(2) Host a Shelf Reliance party.  You can earn FREE and 1/2 off product this way.
(3) Become a Shelf Reliance consultant.  I actually started as a consultant simply because I wanted to earn my food storage for free.  I have been able to that and so much more.  Being a Shelf Reliance consultant is an incredible opportunity!


Interview with Shelf Reliance Consultant Misty Marsh – Part 1

I’d like to thank Shelf Reliance Consultant Misty Marsh for taking the time to answer some interview questions for our party.  Today we have a few questions about the business itself, and tomorrow we’ll have some product related questions.  And if you have any questions to ask Misty or if you’d like to order something you may send her an email.
Q: What first attracted you to this type of business?
I have actually never been to a “home party” before starting this business because I didn’t like all the pressure to buy things I didn’t really need.  But when I was invited to a Shelf Reliance party, it was different: these are products I need: food and self reliance.  I was intrigued.  I was also very pleasantly surprised by the lack of pressure at the party.  Shelf Reliance is a company with no debt and they want to help their customers be more self reliant; they don’t pressure anyone to buy things they can’t afford. 
Once I tried THRIVE food, I loved it.  I was certain this was the type of food I wanted for my family’s “food insurance.”  I felt that was something I wanted to share with others and that by sharing it, I would be doing something honorable: helping others become more self reliant. 
The things that sealed the deal?  (1) This is a ground floor opportunity with an incredibly stable company.  (2) The compensation plan is generous. (3) There are no minimum sales requirement to earn on your own sales.  (4) The product is consumable: you will always have repeat customers. 
If you’d like, you can read more about how and why I got involved with Shelf Reliance.
Q: A lot of people out there have never heard of food insurance or food storage. Why is it important to have this?

Most people have car insurance, health insurance, home owners insurance etc.  Few people have “food insurance.”  Yet, we couldn’t live for long without food.  There are many things that  threaten our ability to provide food for our families: natural disaster, economic recession / depression, job loss, unexpected medical bills.  By storing foods with a long shelf life in your home, you create a form of “food insurance” that makes you less reliant on the grocery store and more self reliant.  You can actually have your own home store.”  THRIVE foods are your favorite foods: redefined.  You can store the same things you buy at the market: produce, meat, yogurt, cheese, milk, butter etc.  These foods are just as healthy and just as tasty as the fresh product.  The main difference is they are easier to use and have an average 20 year shelf life.
Q: For those who are skeptical about the need for such a thing as food storage, what do you say?

You pay your insurance premiums, but hope you never have to use your insurance.  This could be argued to be a waste of money because you are paying for something you never use.  But the peace of mind is worth it, right?
Food storage is another form of insurance, but it is a much better investment than most.  Storing it will bring great peace of mind.  It allows you to provide for your family without relying on the grocery store or anyone else.  But it isn’t a “waste” of money like many other insurances because it is something you will use everyday and rotate through.  You can use it in your everyday meals. 
Q: What, in your opinion, makes Shelf Reliance such a great company to purchase from and consult for?

Shelf Reliance has a great mission statement:

Through superior products and sound education, Shelf Reliance empowers people to become self reliant, prosperous and charitable.
That is something I can fully support. 
They are debt free and very generous.  Five percent of all their profits go to their Thriving Nations Charity.  They are serious about helping others become self reliant.  Our community and our economy needs more of us, many more of us, to be self reliant.
Their quality control is the best in the industry which leads to a superior product.  I know of a retailer (close friend of mine) who has been selling food storage for 20+ years.  When he found THRIVE, he stopped carrying all other brands because he says this is the best tasting, highest quality product he has ever seen.
They’ve made food storage affordable through the Q program and the ability to rotate and use the food in your own recipes on a regular basis.
They have no debt. They keep a 3 month supply of food in their warehouse for all their Q customers.  So, they practice what they preach.
They are very generous with their consultants.  The commission plan is superior.  In addition, consultants can act as hosts and earn commissions and free product.
Please stop by tomorrow for part 2 of my interview with Misty.


Shelf Reliance Live Chats (Updated)

This week for part of our Shelf Reliance party, Consultant Misty Marsh and I will be conducting 3 LIVE Chat events.  It’s very easy to log on.  Simply visit the link below:
And when the page loads, just enter the name you wish to go by in the chat.  That’s it!
Now for the dates and times.  Misty and I decided that we would do 3 thirty minute sessions.  To make it more convenient for everyone’s schedules, we are doing one on each of day of the party.  And we’ll have one in the afternoon, one in the evening, and one in the morning.
Here’s the Chat Schedule:
Chat #1 – Wednesday, June 1 – 4:00PM Eastern
Chat #2 – Thursday, June 2 – 9:00PM Eastern
Chat #3 – Friday, June 3 – 11:00AM Eastern
Chat Topics:   The purpose of the chat is to give you a chance to ask Misty a question about her business: everything from product questions to questions about hosting your own Shelf Reliance party, or becoming a Shelf Reliance Consultant.
Can’t Attend but Got Questions?  If you are unable to attend one of our chat sessions but would like to ask Misty a question, you may ask it here in the comments, or send it to me via email, and I will ask her for you during the chat.
Prizes!! During the chat we will have some easy games, and you’ll be able to win some samples for playing. I’ll also be giving away a bracelet to someone just for attending a chat. (And I’m also giving extra entries for my earring giveaway if you attend a chat.)

UPDATED:  Here’s a list of the quiz questions Misty will ask during the chat and the links where you can find the answers.  The links will also be given out during the chat, but feel free to go ahead and check them out.

  1. Name of of my (Misty’s favorite products):  http://www.yourownhomestore.com/2011/05/my-favorite-thrive-products.html
  2. What is Shelf Reliance’s missions statement?  http://yourownhomestore.shelfreliance.com/yourownhomestore/missionstatement
  3. How much free product does the host earn if there are $1000 in sales at her party?  http://yourownhomestore.shelfreliance.com/yourownhomestore/hostbenefits
  4. What type of foods are sold in the THRIVE food line?  http://yourownhomestore.shelfreliance.com/yourownhomestore/product
  5. The Q is designed to help you create your own home ______________________.  http://yourownhomestore.shelfreliance.com/yourownhomestore/q
  6. There are four ways to earn as a Shelf Reliance consultant.  Name one.  http://yourownhomestore.shelfreliance.com/yourownhomestore/earningpotential
  7. How many THRIVE products are GMO free?  http://www.yourownhomestore.com/2011/05/thrive-gmo-free-food-storage.html
  8. What two products does Shelf Reliance sell besides THRIVE food?  http://www.yourownhomestore.com/p/shelf-reliance-products.html

RSVP:  You DO NOT have to RSVP to attend one or all of the chats.  I just decided to put this linky up to give me an idea of how many people might attend.  So if you are going to attend, or if you’re considering attending, please enter your name below. (You may link to your blog or twitter account.)

(PS – Don’t forget to comment on this post and my other Shelf Reliance posts if you’d like to win a pair of earrings from my shop!)


Why The Need For Food Storage?

As many of you already know, I’m hosting a party for Shelf Reliance this week.  They are a company that sells emergency food storage and supplies.
I first became acquainted with and interested in the idea of food storage in 2009.  When it was first explained to me, it made perfect sense.  But to some, I realize that it seems kind of crazy and even apocalyptic.  To help you understand it better, I’ve decided to explain my own frame of reference to you.
First off, as the granddaughter of farmers, I realize that our grandparents used to grow and can their own food.  My grandparents didn’t have Wal-Mart.  They had to be self-reliant.  Today we have things super easy! And sometimes I think that’s to our detriment, because we aren’t nearly as prepared for hard times as our grandparents and great grandparents were.
So what do I mean by hard times?
Well, for starters, there’s inflation.  If you’ve been to the grocery store in the last year, you’ve got to notice the rise in prices.  It may not seem like a big deal to some to pay 10 cents more here and 50 cents more there, but when you add it all up, it can put a huge strain on your pocketbook.
Another thing that affects so many people right now is unemployment.  In 2008, my husband’s business was hit hard, causing him to seek employment elsewhere.  He was lucky to find a good job, which he trained for for 3 months, only to be laid off, after about a month.  This layoff was the last thing we ever expected, and I wish we had food storage at that time.  It would have made things a lot less stressful just knowing that we didn’t have to worry about what we’re going to eat.
The Recent Disasters
And finally, another thing that seems more relevant to myself and many others than ever before, is the possiblity of weather disasters: floods, tornadoes, hurricane, tsunamis, even the snowstorms from earlier this year. 
I never thought we’d have a serious weather emergency here.  And yet we had a power outage all over the city 2 years ago due to storms.  Then this past winter we had a snow storm.  Our snow storm would be no big deal to those of you who are used to it, but we don’t do snow down here.  It shut down our entire city…no, make that the entire county and surrounding counties for days!  Lucky for us, we had food, and we didn’t lose power!
The same cannot be said for us during the tornadoes.  Just in our part of the state alone there were half a million people without power, and many were without power for over a week!  Very, very few stores were open.  And most of the ones who were only took cash (no checks, no debit or credit cards!).  The wait at our local Publix (once you’re in line) was about 3 hours, and they were not allowed to sale refrigerated or frozen items due to the risk of food poisoning.  It was total chaos at the stores!
It was so crazy, we actually left town to visit my husband’s family.  And we drove 70 miles before we came to an open gas station. (And yes, the gas station were chaotic too.)  While we were out of town my mother-in-law explained that they were without power for 2 weeks during one of hurricanes years ago. (Yikes!)  Now practically everyone in their area has a generator.
My Conclusion
I guess what I’m really trying to say is that you never know when something’s going to happen.  We have fire drills in school, even though the chances of having an actual fire are very slim.  We buy health insurance, hoping (and often thinking) that we’ll never use it, and so on.  A few years ago, I never thought I’d need extra food supplies, but I’ve already seen so many instances where it could have been useful to us.  And in the event of another disaster, I want to have the peace of mind, in knowing that we are prepared, that we’ll be self-reliant, and I don’t want to have to count on relatives and/or Publix to save us.

For more information on emergency preparedness, check out Ready.gov


You’re Invited to a Shelf Reliance Party!

I’m very excited to announce a fun and informative event that I’ll be hosting here in a couple of weeks!
June 1-3 –  I will be hosting a Virtual Party for Shelf Reliance, a company that specializes in long term food storage and emergency products.
Throughout the party I’ll be “serving up” some foods from Shelf Reliance.

And you’ll get special party pricing on all Shelf Reliance products! This is 5-50% off!
Misty Marsh is our Shelf Reliance consultant, and she will be on hand to answer any questions you may have about Shelf Reliance and their products.  I’ll also posting an interview with Misty! 

And we will have prizes!

I’ll be giving away some jewelry from my shop, and we’ll also have a prize of $100 worth of Shelf Reliance products!

I’ll be announcing all the rules for how you can qualify for the prizes a few days before the party starts.

And last but not least, we will have Free LIVE Chats.  Each chat is 30 minutes long.  Here are the dates and times:

Wednesday – June 1 – 4 PM Eastern
Thursday – June 2 – 10 PM Eastern
Friday – June 3- 11 AM Eastern

Just go to this Chat Room at the appropriate time and enter you name.  This will be a great chance to ask questions, and we will even have prizes for attendees!

How to Order: You can also use this price list.  If you have any questions or if you’d decided like to place an order at a discount (5%-50% below retail price), you can do so through my “party!”  All you need to do is contact me or my consultant Misty between now and June 3 at 10:00 pm PST.  You must contact one of us directly to get the discounted party pricing. 

Hope you’ll join the fun! In the meantime, please grab a button for your blog and help me spread the word about this party!


Survival Seed Review/Giveaway – Grow Your Garden!

Do you have an emergency food supply? Is your family prepared for a food shortage? In the event of a natural disaster, terrorist attack, and other catostophic events, it’s good to have the ease of mind in knowing that your family has plenty of food to eat.

Unfortunately most of us only stock enough food to sustain ourselves for a few weeks. For many of us, this is due to a lack of funds. If you live paycheck to paycheck, as many of us do, you buy what you can, which is generally a week or two weeks worth of groceries. But it’s also due to a sense or (as some would say) a false sense of security. As I stated in my previous post, we have the luxery of being able to go to the store anytime we want: today, tomorrow, next week, etc. And most us of never consider what it would be like if we did not have this opportunity. Most people have no idea what they would do in the event of a major disaster or even what they would do in the event of a personal emergency (job loss, accident, etc.)

One answer is to grow your own garden. Although maintaining a garden can be hardwork, it gives you the opportunity to be self reliant and continuously create a new food supply year after year. It also saves you a lot of money. Growing a garden is also a great project that you can work on with you family, and it can help you to teach your children about responsibility, self-reliance, and the value of hard work.

Today I’m giving away a survival seed pack from Hometown Seeds. The seed pack consists of Non-Hybrid Survival Seeds. This means that they are not genetically modified and they will produce true to variety seeds to replant for future harvests. The seeds have a 5 year shelf life (10 years, if frozen). And the package includes nearly a pound and a half of seed—enough seeds to plant 3/4 of an acre. Also, the seed pack sales for $35 and will yield about $600 worth of food a year!
The package also comes with a fabulous instruction booklet. This tells you everything you need to know to start growing your garden: when to plant, where to plant, crop spacings, germination periods, soil modification, etc.

Your Survival Seed Pack will include 16 varieties of seeds:

-Lincoln Peas (5 oz.)
-Detroit Dark Red Beets (10 grams)
-Kentucky wonder Brown Pole Bean (5 oz.)
-Champion Radish (10 grams)
-Lucullus Swiss Chard (10 grams)
-Black Beauty Zucchini (10 grams)
-Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach (10 grams)
-Scarlet Nantes Carrots (10 grams)
-Long Green Improved Cucumber (10 grams)
-Golden Acre Cabbage (10 grams)
-Romaine Paris Island Cos Lettuce (5 grams)
-Golden Banterm Sweet Corn (5 oz.)
-Yolo Wonder Pepper (5 grams)
-Waltham Butternut Winter Squash (10 grams)
-Rutgers Tomato (5 grams)
-Yellow Sweet Spanish Onion (10 grams)

Win it! If you’d like to win your own survival seed pack (a $35 value) go to Hometown Seeds and tell us your favorite product OR tell me what crop you’d most like to have in your garden. Deadline: April 5

Extra Entries:
-One entry for following my blog publicly.
-Two entries for following me on twitter.

-One entry each time you link up at Friday Favorites during the giveaway period (3/19 edition through 4/2 edition).
-One entry for tweeting about this giveaway (limit one entry per day).
(Sample tweet: I want to win survival seeds for my garden http://bit.ly/assh9Y @SimplySweetHome.)
-One entry if you link up something for Sweet Thursday.
-Two entries if you display my button on your blog.
-One entry if you’re a fan on facebook.
-Three entries if you are subscribed to my Feedblitz mailing list.
-One entry if you follow Simply Sweet Creations.
-Five entries if you make a purchase from my etsy shop.

Rules/Restrictions: Giveaway is for US residents only. If you don’t have a blog or profile with a visible email address, please leave one with your comment so that I can contact you if you win.



I’m posting a link to this post on the following sites:
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday is hosted by Blessed With Grace.
Homemaker Mondays is hosted by 11th Heaven’s Homemade Haven.
Tasty Tuesday is hosted by Balancing Beauty & Bedlam.
Works for Me Wednesday is hosted by We Are THAT Family
Tip Me Tuesday is hosted by Tip Junkie
Sharing Ideas Wednesday is hosted by The Trendy Treehouse
Friday Food is hosted by Mom Trends
Friday Foodie is hosted by Designs by Gollum
Finer Things Friday is hosted by Amy’s Finer Things
I’m Lovin It Fridays is hosted by Tidy Mom

It’s So Very Thrifty is hosted by It’s So Very Cheri
Show and Tell Friday is hosted by Romantic Home
Disclosure: I did not receive monetary compensation for this post. The opinions expressed here are my own. I received a seed pack in return for posting a text link and another package to give away to my readers.

MckLinky Blog Hop
Click here to see the entire Giveaway Blog Hop List….

The Need For Food Storage: How Much Food Do You Have on Hand?

photo credit: The Daily Telegraph

Is your family prepared for emergencies? My husband and I spoke with a network marketer who said that 95% of people just make a living. Whether they work as a store clerk or mechanic, or whether they’re a business owner, doctor, or lawyer, they have to keep trading their time into that profession in order for the income stream to continue. And for most of us, if we stopped working for a few weeks (because we lost our job, got sick or had to take care of a sick loved one, etc) it would create a big financial burden in a hurry.

And this not only applies to our finances but to our personal food supply. The majority of people only have enough food to sustain their families for a couple of weeks. For some people it may be more, but for others on a tight budget, it may be less. We’ve grown accustomed to living our lives day to day, knowing that we can go to the grocery store and get everything we need today, tomorrow, next week, and the week after that. And we give very little thought to food storage for emergency preparedness.
Think of all the things that could affect your personal food supply and/or your ability to get more food. Here are just a few things: tornado, flood, terrorist attack, civil unrest, massive power outages, inflation and even on a personal level, the loss of a job or income stream or a family emergency that prevents you from working.
Last summer we actually had a massive power outage that lasted for 3 days. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Alabama in the summer time, but trust me, you don’t want to be without power for 3 hours, much less 3 days! Anyway–we managed to get some ice and transfer some of our refrigerated goods over to coolers, but unfortunately we had to throw some things out. And during that time we had to spend some our money on fast food.
That same week, many households were without power for 5 days. I remember reading in the paper about a lady who was in desperate straits because she’d just bought groceries before the power outage and now all her food was spoiled, and she simply couldn’t afford to take her family out to eat again. And because she only got paid every two weeks, she was in a quandary over how she could get groceries for the following week.
But what if the situation had been more dire? What if it had been a longterm problem?  For us, going 3 days without power seemed to drive us mad, not just because of the lack of internet, tv, and other luxeries, but because there was no way to cook our food or keep it cold. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in that situation for a week, a month, or longer.  Can you?

We often read articles about emergency preparedness: having smoke detectors, a weather radio, a home evacuation plan, etc. But often food and water, the most vital things to our survival don’t get a lot of  mention.  I’ve been looking in to this topic, and as I prepared for the survival seed giveaway that I’m doing this week, I got inspired to create some other posts on this topic, starting with this one–sort of a mini series.

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, I’ll be doing more posts on the subject in the next few weeks.  Also, later on today I’ll be launching the survival seed giveaway, which you are welcome to enter.