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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Reminiscing









My life couldn't be more summed up in a better quote right now. It has been a challenging summer to say the least. While it is easy to say life will continue to go on, it is sometimes hard to coup.




My baby daughter arrived two days after the funeral of my grandmother. My grandma had a rough few months leading up to her passing. She suffered a fall in November that triggered an increase in her Dementia. As it tends to happen at the end of our lives, one little thing after another added up and led to her being placed on hospice care the beginning of June.




I was lucky to head up to say my goodbyes with only 3 weeks left of my pregnancy. I wasn't supposed to travel, but I knew if I didn't go then, I might not be able to go later. Well turns out my instincts were right. My grandmother passed away less than a week before my due date. Her funeral was on my due date, so I was unable to travel to be there.




My grandma and my daughter now share a middle name to remember and honor her forever.





Loss has an interesting way of presenting itself. I'd like to think that a little bit of my grandma was reborn with my daughter. It is sad to think that they will never meet, but I know she has an extra special guardian angel now.




As I look back and reminisce on the times I had with my Grandma, I am thankful and glad of the memories I have. It is those memories that I will share and pass on to my children. Grandparents are a special friend to small children and hold a place in our hearts forever. I can only hope that my children will cherish the times they share with my parents and forever be grateful of those memories.




Memories are with us forever. The material possessions that ones leave behind may help us to remember those times, but they too don't last forever. The only things that will be with us forever are the moments we shared together and keep in our hearts.




I quickly realized that when I wasn't able to be present for my grandma's passing or funeral, my memories I have are what I need to remember and share. The new life that I bring into the world will carry on new memories. The chances I get to reminisce with my children of the generations before them, will hopefully share a place in their heart as it does mine.






May our memories never fade and our hearts always be open to new ones.






Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Almond Peach Cobbler Muffins

It isn't quite summer without fresh peaches! Growing up my Dad always had a row of fresh fruit trees along the house and when those trees got ripe, it meant summer was officially here. Well my Dad still has those trees and when my mom came to visit the other week guess what she brought with her, a box of those fresh peaches from Dad's orchard. You could say I was a little excited.


But a whole box of peaches for our little family, what was I to do with a whole box? Well of course I eat my fair share, but you can only eat so many fresh peaches. I froze some. My sister made me a fresh peach cobbler and I still had some left. So I decided to make some peach cobbler muffins with an almond twist.




I can add almonds to just about anything I bake. If almonds aren't your favorite to bake with, you can always use normal flour and vanilla extract. I of course, love almonds to bake with so these are a yummy addition to me recipe book.




These muffins are very moist, they keep best in the fridge to keep them moist and fresh. The chunks of peach are oh so yummy. If you don't have fresh peaches or they aren't as sweet as peak of harvest peaches, you may want to add sugar. But fresh peaches and honey make this recipe so sweet, you don't need sugar.




Hope you enjoy these as much as we do.



Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Harvest is in full swing


Harvest is in full swing on the farm. Some farmers around us started a good week or two before us, but we finally started shaking last week.


Harvest starting all depends on soil type, water moisture in the nuts, weather and tree variety. These factors could vary throughout our state making the start of almond harvest vary throughout the state. But on our family farm, we are shaking.

Harvest is full of long hours, busy schedules and hot weather! So anytime we can find our favorite almond farmer to have some family time, we get excited. I consider it a huge blessing that between chaos of harvest we can take a few minutes to have some family time. We of course had to take a family selfie to celebrate our little girl's first almond harvest







Family selfie as a family of FOUR
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Drip irrigating nonpareils before harvest



Before we could start almond harvest, we had to give the trees one last drink. After the trees are shaken they will lay on the orchard floor for 7-10 days before being swept, picked up and taken to the huller. These trees could go a few weeks without water in the harvest process. With the hot 100 plus degree days, we want to make sure they get one last drink before harvest starts. And thanks to drip irrigation we are able to irrigate between harvest of the different varieties. 


After we irrigate one last time, we need to mow the weeds and grass from the orchard rows. Any debris left in the orchard during harvest could get picked up with the almonds. This would cause problems with the harvesting equipment getting clogged up or break down. If any of this material arrives with the almonds at the huller, the same could happen there.


So once, the trees are irrigated and the orchard is mowed it was time to shake. Now that we have shaking underway for about a week, we just started sweeping and will soon be picking up. Harvest is in full swing!


Mowing the orchard of weeds and grass

It's time to shake!


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Hull Split

Because I am now a busy mom of two and my life has been crazy, a not so wordless Wednesday.


Here are a few photos of hull split over the past few weeks. Harvest will be here soon, probably end of next week or beginning of the following week. Stay tuned...










Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Our newest little bundle of joy has arrived!

Daddy's little Hazel nut is here! Our newest little bundle of joy has arrived. We couldn't be more excited to welcome our little girl. As our doctor described it, she came in like a bullet train.




It was definitely an exciting and fast labor but not at first. My due date was June 21st and being 4 days early with my son, I was expecting to go into an early labor. Well, that didn't happen. June 21st came and went and I was still pregnant. My doctor actually scheduled me to be induced on June 21st because of low blood pressure and the fact that my son's labor was only 6 hours. They say your labor gets faster and faster the more kids you have.




June 21st was the first day of summer and in Bakersfield there was no doubt it was summer. That week was 110 degrees plus and apparently that causes women to go into labor. Although I was scheduled to be induced, there was an increase in women coming into the hospital in natural labor. There was no room at the hospital for me to come to. So, June 21st came and went and I was still pregnant. June 22nd, the hospital called and said I was first on the list to be induced and they would call me as soon as a room opened up. It was another day of 110 degrees and no rooms ever became available for me.




On June 23rd at 2am I woke up to use the bathroom as I did multiple times throughout the night for the past several weeks. I climbed back into bed to try to go back to sleep. As I lay there for about 2 minutes I feel a sudden burst of water and jump out of bed to realize my water just broke. No more than 5 minutes later I was having contractions. By the time we make it to the hospital at 3am my contractions were 5 minutes apart and I was 7 cm dilated.




It was a fast and furious labor with no time for pain medicine. Hazel Frances arrived at 4:41am.


Photo credit: Stacey Leigh Photography






 
 





Big Brother loves her and tries to kiss and cuddle her constantly. We are working on being gentle and soft touches.





Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

3 Ingredient Fudge

As my pregnancy nears the end I've been craving sweets like crazy. I never really had a sweet tooth before I became pregnant. I used to just drink my dessert by having another glass of red wine. With both my pregnancies though, sweets have always been on my mind. I just want more and more of the bad things.


These last few weeks I have really been out of energy. I have not wanted to do much but lay down and pretend to rest. Let's be real, when you are at the end of pregnancy there is no such thing as sleeping. You just kind of lay there and pretend to sleep. So, when I was hit with a few days of energy I ran with it and did some last minute meal prep and baking to stock up on some things before baby arrives. I made a few freezer casseroles and of course did some baking.


If you follow me on social media you know last week I had a burst of energy and chopped up a TON of almonds for some baking experiments. I of course had to make a double batch of my favorite almond granola and then I wanted to try a new recipe that didn't seem to turn out. So, that baking fail left me seeking an easy and delicious sweet tooth recipe that was sure to please.


This 3 ingredient fudge is a winner! It is 3 ingredients, how could that not be a winner. You know I like easy and simple recipes so this is sure to be a staple in my baking recipes for the future. When one of the ingredients is also almonds, you know I have to share it. Of course, when I found the recipe it wasn't almonds and I had to tweak it a little to make it mine.  You can of course substitute almonds for walnuts, pistachios or even coconut would be yummy.


So, give it a try and let me know how you like it...it won't take long at all!





Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Start of Summer

As spring comes to an end and summer is fast approaching it seems that almond harvest will be here before we know it. But first, we must get acclimated to these 100 degree days and the fact that sun and heat are here to stay. Oh ya and before summer starts officially, I'd like this baby out of me!


Our family tree is growing and my official due date is the first day of summer. Deep down inside I was hoping summer wouldn't rear it's head until the baby decides to join us. The thought of being pregnant during the 110 degree days is making me dizzy. So, with two weeks left to go, let's hope it stays somewhat cool. For me and the trees.


Not just my due date is fast approaching, but hull split should also pick up around the same time as baby arriving. Hull split is the unofficial countdown to harvest. When the hulls begin to split, we know the almonds have roughly 4-5 weeks until they are ready for harvest.


Currently, the exterior green hull is done growing from a size perspective. Like my baby, we are just waiting for the almond to reach full maturity.  The exterior of the shell is still soft where it connects to the hull. The inside of the shell, where it protects the meat is starting to harden.


Peaches and almonds are like fruit cousins. Peaches are closer related to almonds than other stone fruit and almonds are closer related to peaches than other nuts. So, let's think of the almond development as you do a peach.


The almond hull is like the peach flesh. Before the peach is ripe, the flesh is done growing and is just protecting the fruit until it is ripe and ready to enjoy. The almond shell and meat is just like the peach pit. As the peach matures, the pit will grow and harden until its ripe and ready to enjoy. The almond shell and meat just need to harden and finish maturing. These last few weeks the almonds will finish developing their oil, sugars and protein content until the hull splits and the almond is ready to eat.




Once hull split comes, the next stage for the almonds will be drying out before we can harvest them. Drying the almonds releases excess moisture and helps the nuts ensure a long shelf life in your pantry or storage container.
As we countdown the weeks until harvest and watch these almonds develop, let's hope the days don't get too hot and this baby decides to come before the craziness starts on the farm!


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny