Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Halloween Sneak Peek

Halloween is fast approaching and making 3 handmade costumes is a challenge since time is limited. So, I decided today to start working on them and try to knock it out early so there is no last minute freaking out on my part. (Which always happens) I figured I would have enough time to mess up a few times and still not be limited or freaking out on Halloween morning. LOL
So.... a Knight, a Dragon, and a Princess
I bought everything for all the costumes yesterday for less then $30.00!!! Now I do need to go back today and pick up a few more things. But for sure it's going to be a much cheaper way to go then buying a $30.00 costume for each.
The Knight tunic is a red tee shirt ($2.47 in craft section) Foam board, felt and glitter glue. and a few left over gems from the Princess hat and the Crests are ready for everything!
Sword and shield are cut from foam board and spray painted silver. Then the crests will be placed on them too!
Cloak is started too! Everything is drying

The boys even helped get into the action!
Brother Baer was loving getting into making the stuff and even decided on how many toes and claws a dragon should have.
Little Baer wasn't quite as helpful. Although he sure was having fun!
Still need to build Armor and let everything dry. But the Kinght is getting done!
Dragon costume is underway as well! Wings, spikes, feet and claws are underway.
Still need lots of work but everything is coming along great.
And of course the Princess is going to be cute as a button. Her costume is started with a Tutu....someone has given me for her. And a hat I made along with her wand. Still working on her top part of her dress and jewels. But I have time. :)
Had a little help from my friends with the spikes. I'm going to glue them together and use spray adhesive to stiffen them to stand. And then line the sides of the bottom with scales. Still need to build a tail. And some other things....It's a work in progress....lots of time. Right?
Princess Hat is made from scrapbook glitter paper, tulle, and foam stickers and jewels picked up from the clearance section of walmart.
Tutu was handmade just not by me. :) It was a gift passed down to Baby Baer.
Wand is a foam wand from dollar store with jewels and stickers added.
So, all in all an awesome way to spend the day!!
Baby Baer modeling her Princess hat!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Christmas Morning

Christmas morning, 1979.
I was 9 years old. This day, this moment in childhood sticks out in my mind almost more than any other event in 40 years. My mom had worked so hard on this day. It wasn’t a glitzy elaborate event. Handmade ornaments were hanging from Christmas tree, surrounded by multi colored glow from the lights. Handmade garland made from cut outs of fabric, sewn together and stuffed, then strung together perfectly was hanging from the ceiling between the living room/ dining room areas in our base housing at Camp Pendleton, California. My mom, my sister, and my step dad lived in a modest 2 bedroom home there. As most military families we were not wealthy or even well off. My parents struggled to pay the bills and to provide for our family. But, at 9, not of that was even apparent to me. I walked out into the living room from my room to see what Santa had left me. I was wearing pajamas made for me by my grandma back east. The excitement was caught in a picture at the very moment I saw the presents.
I received 4 gifts that year. An Andy Gibb poster, an Andy Gibb puzzle and the two things that were the pivotal weapons to groom me into the person I am today. A Gerber Baby Doll that my mom had saved Gerber labels from my baby sister’s baby food and mailed in and received for free. She was dressed in a white gown, hand sewn, her eyes closed when you laid her down and she was beautiful. I loved her. She was mine to love forever. The other item was a handmade cradle for my baby that my step dad had crafted and my mom had painted white. In the cradle was a pink bedding set. The blanket and pillow were also handmade for me by my mom. It was the greatest Christmas ever. I cannot tell you many details about other years. But this Christmas….it was different.
Why this Christmas stood out in my mind didn’t become clear to me until much later. You see, all I ever wanted to be was a mom. That’s it. I never as a child inspired to be a doctor or a lawyer or anything other than a mom. I was to have 2 boys and 2 girls. They would all be beautiful and perfect. I would dress them in expensive clothing and match them to each other. Dresses for the girls, adorable pant suits for the boys. They would be smothered in love every moment of everyday. I would lavish them with everything they ever dreamed of having. I was going to marry an amazing handsome man, maybe a doctor, or maybe a prince, and would spend my life caring for my family. We would be the envy of the suburban neighborhood we were going to live in. We would go to church of course, every Sunday in our Sunday best. And I would chat with the other moms about all the amazing things my children were doing this week. And we would watch the children laugh and play together. Then we would go to grandma’s house for our Sunday dinner and the cousins would all play together for the afternoon. During the week I, of course, would volunteer for charities. Giving back would always be important. Maybe saving animals or the homeless would be my calling. That would be my life. An important one, a fabulous one. A mother, a wife, a volunteer, making a difference in the world. That would be me.
Two lessons came from that day. One, was there was no such thing as Santa Claus (well….I saw my mom in the mall at Spencer’s gifts buying that Andy Gibb puzzle before Christmas and it came from Santa DUH!) The second lesson was that dreams do come true.
Although I must confess that God answers prayers in his way and on his time. This life I lead 29 years later. The life of a mother, of a wife, and of a volunteer is not anywhere close to being that princess perfect life I dreamed of. You see my dreams never had words like Atriaventricular Septal Defect, Bicuspid Aortic Valve, Congenital Heart Defects, Down Syndrome, Autism, Mood Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, or Expressive Language Disorder. My dreams never had me spending nights in a hospital standing a vigilant guard by my child’s bedside. Watching the monitors and praying for sleep and no PVC’s. Nor did my dreams have me spending my days learning about chest tubes and Pacemaker wires. I also didn’t dream the 10 therapy appointments a week that we attend. The multiple Autistic meltdowns of epic proportions weren’t on the agenda either. None of these things were in my planning when I planned out my life but alas here we are....Here I am. A few other things weren’t on my list of dreams either. But through it all one thing remains true. God does not call on the equipped. He equips those who he calls. And God is the one who makes the choices for me in my life. I am simply here, doing God's work. Blessed to be the one he has called and equipped for this journey. I love my family and my life. And those beauitful babies that God has sent me!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Saurkraut Stuffed Banana Peppers

Saurkraut Stuffed Banana Peppers
32 Banana Peppers (I use mild)

4 cups of saurkraut

Minced Garlic

Brine: 16 cups of Vinegar, 16 cups water, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup canning salt.

Makes 8 quarts

Cut the ends off your peppers and deseed them. Stuff them with cooked saurkraut. Add one tablesoon of minced garlic to each quart jar and stuff them with the banana peppers. Cover with Brine leaving 1/4 inch head space.

Seal with hot seals and rims. Water bath for 10 minutes.

Pepperoni Stuffed Banana Peppers

Pepperoni Stuffed Banana Peppers
32 Large Banana Peppers (I use mild)
2 large sticks of pepperoni
Minced Garlic
16 cups of vineagr
16 cups of water
2 cups of sugare
1 cup of salt
Cut the tops off the peppers and deseed them. Cut your pepperoni in small sticks to match the approx. size of your peppers.
Pack the peppers with pepperoni. Place 1 tablesoon of minced garlic in each quart jar and pack the peppers into the jar. (If you rotate the peppers up and down they will fit better)
Pour the Brine into jars to cover the peppers. Leaving 1.4 inch head space. Seal with hot seals and rims.
Water bath for 10 minutes.

Hot Banana Pepper Rings

Hot Banana Pepper Rings
50 small to medium hot peppers (Or Mild)
4 cups Vinegar
4 cups Water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup canning salt
Cut and deseed the hot peppers (Use gloves! They burn and soak into your skin. Causing burning later!)
Cut the end off and then coin them.
I mix hot with mild. They are great for sauces, pizza, salads and other things throughout the winter.
Bring Brine to boil. Bring seals to boil as well. Have jars sterilizing.
Pack into hot jars, Pour Brine over them leaving a 1/4 inch head space.
Wipe rims, place seal and ring. Water bath for 10 minutes!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How to help moms like me

If you EVER come in contact with me (or a mom like me) in daily life here are some general rules of how to help.
On the 6 year old:
Please don't LOOK at me like I'm a bad mom when my 6 year old has a meltdown in the grocery store. And give me the look that I should take him home and relieve you of your suffering....Honestly I would rather stab myself in the eye then have to deal with it too. But the fact is that my family needs to eat. My husband works full time and then some so the only way we get food is for me to take him. And deal. So please just deal too. I know it sucks.
You COULD however offer to push my cart with my 2 babies and groceries to the car for me while I carry the 60lb child that is kicking and hitting me.
PLEASE don't tell me you know how it is, unless you have experienced the violence and abuse from your own child in the midst of an autistic tantrum. You honestly don't know how I feel. And comparing that to your son stomping his feet when he doesn't get candy isn't the same. It just isn't.
You COULD offer to stand with my babies while I deal with him or chase him down through the parking lot.
PLEASE don't tell me that taking him to the pumpkin patch *or anywhere* with you and your kids would be awesome fun. It really won't be with him. Understand that his brain is different. and it's not fun. And don't be upset when I say we can't go. It's not that I don't want to go and hang out with other moms. I would love nothing more then that. I just can't.
You COULD offer to come over and hang out here at my house with me. Where he is comfortable. I do love to talk to adults and love the company.
PLEASE don't tell me that it could be worse. I already know that. It doesn't take the "suckiness" away. It really doesn't. It doesn't make it easier.
You COULD offer to babysit the kids and then pretend to be ok when my 6 year old assualts you. I really do feel bad when it happens. I hate that I can't trust him to stay with others.
PLEASE don't tell me boys are boys, or to make a sticker chart. I can't take one more comment like that.
You COULD listen and honestly care that he choked his teacher today. And then say you're sorry I have to deal with that.
PLEASE don't say "He doesn't look/act/seem like he has Autism." That doesn't help. I don't think any of that matters and even if it did it doesn't "help" me to know that.
You COULD learn a little bit about the Autism spectrum and a little about him. And why he acts like he does.
Now.....on to my 2 year old
PLEASE don't say he doesn't "look like he has Down Syndrome bad" or "he doesn't seem severe" that doesn't even make sense. Down syndrome is not something you can have a little of. It just is. His potential in life is yet to be known. As is all of our Down Syndrome children.
You COULD say how cute or sweet or nice or smart he is. You honestly don't have to point out he has Down Syndrome. I already know.
PLEASE don't stare at him.
You COULD ask questions and honestly care if you're interested.
PLEASE don't say "Down Syndrome kids are so loving" Of course they are loving but they are also strong willed, stubborn and have a temper. :)
You COULD say his shoes are ADORABLE or any of compliment you can think of. ;)
PLEASE don't say you're sorry. I'm not sorry. Saying you're sorry is like saying he's a mistake. and he's NOT.
You COULD treat us like we are a normal family. Cause we are.
PLEASE don't use the word "retard" around us. It's insulting. And even if you "think" it's not and it's silly for us to care about a word. Just don't use it. Show respect.
You COULD use the words random and rich though....we like those words. ;)
PLEASE don't tell me that you would never mean that word to be mean because you have "special needs" friends/relatives/etc so you can use it.... That's like me saying I can use the word "fag" because I have a gay friend. That doesn't even make sense.
You COULD choose to respect and admire everyone for their own abilities. Regardless of their abilitites.
PLEASE don't tell me you don't know how I do it. Honestly...somedays I don't know how I do it either. And all that does is throw it in my face my life is rough. And I already know that.
You COULD come over and help me out. Play with the kids while I clean. That would be a DREAM
PLEASE don't treat him like he's not here. Or talk about him in front of him. He UNDERSTANDS everything you say. Even if he can't talk back. He understands you. And saying things about him is rude.
You COULD ask me questions if you really want to know about developments. I will share all my information.
Basically treat me and my children like we are "normal" cause we are. (Well as much normal as you and everyone else) We do have special needs here and we do have things to deal with. I don't want pity. Understanding would be great though! And I'm pretty sure any other mom in my shoes would feel the same!

If only.....

So, today is one of those days. It's only 10 AM and I'm whipped. It's been a long morning. I find myself dreaming of life without the challenges we face here everyday. Find myself dreaming about how it "would" be. If only....
If Only I could talk to my 6 year old and enjoy our morning. And not have the tantrums and the meltdowns over things like putting the sugar on the cereal BEFORE the milk, or why is it raining today. If only those things didn't matter to him.
If Only I didn't have to take him to his social skills class 5 days a week. Packing up the babies and myself to drive him there and pick him up later. If only he could just stay home and play like other kids.
If only Little Baer didn't have to have therapy 4 days a week. 7 times a week. If only we could just have fun and not worry about walking and talking and eating. Like other families can.
If only the decisions I have to make about Little Baer and Brother Baers futures weren't so hard. If only starting school next week was an exciting time filled with great expectations instead of dread of when Brother Baer would choke his teacher next or assault a classmate.
If only Brother Baer didn't have 3 therapies a week. And my life wasn't comsumed with therapists and doctors.
If only I didn't worry about things like hearts working right and blue lips and sweating with feedings.
If only I was niave. Just for one day if i were Niave like some of my I used to be before all these things came to me. i could relax and just enjoy my life as a mother without all the worry and stress.
If only I worried about silly things like other moms do. And people could laugh at me for worrying about them.
If only.....
I didn't know so much.
I didn't want to be informed and educated on a billion different topics. LOL.....Really I was happy not knowing.
I didn't want to know how to fill out a 75 page IEP. Didn't really care to know what an IEP was to be honest.
I didn't want to know how hearts worked and all the things that could and would go wrong.
Silly to think of those if onlys. It doesn't change my course. It doesn't make me wish I didn't have to walk this walk. It doesn't make me less in love with my miracle children. They are my precious gifts.
Just would like somedays to be simple. Easy. Fun.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dilly Gardenia Mix

Dilly Gardenia Mix
2 large heads of Cauliflower
3 lbs of carrots
4 medium, onions
10 cups of water
10 cups of vinegar
1 cup of canning salt
In Each Jar you will add:
1 head of fresh Dill
1 clove of garlic (or 1/2 teaspoon of minced)
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Clean and cut all veggies to size as desired. I use my crinkle cutter for the carrots. Cauliflower in bite size pieces. Onions I cut in quarters and then seperate.

Once you have your veggies all cut up. Sterilize your jars and heat your seals.
In the hot jars add the spices and then pack with the veggies. Mixing and layering as you go. Cover veggies in jars with hot brine. Place hot seals on and water bath for 10 minutes to seal.
place on towel and cover with towel to cool and seal. (For more tips on canning see previous canning posts.)
Recipe Yields 8 quarts

Dilly Beans

Dilly Beans
These Beans are a spicy, tangy, snacking type of Green Bean. Crisp and fun to use for an appetizer platter or in a bowl for a holiday, football game or anything else.
3 lbs of fresh green beans
5 cups of water
5 cups of vinegar
1/2 cup of canning salt
In each quart jar you will add the following:
1 head of fresh dill
1 glove of garlic (or 1/2 teaspoon of minced)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Snap off the ends of green beans and wash them good.
Sterilize your jars and seals. Add your spices to each jar. This recipe will make 4 quart jars!
YUMMY YUMMY Fresh Dill from the garden!
After adding your spices to each quart jar. Then Pack jars with beans (lengthwise) leaving a 1/4 inch head room at top. Pack them as full as you can. Then cover boiling brine over top of them to fill jar.
Seal with hot seals and water bath for 10 minutes in boiling water. (For tips on water bathing and jar packing see Zucchini Relish recipe post.)

Pickled Beets

Pickled Beets
20 beets (medium sized, mor or less depending on size)
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
3 cups of vinegar
canning salt
These beets are so great to have for winter to make pickled eggs or serve plain. A staple at all our holiday meals!

Cook your beets in a large stock pot with the roots and stems attached. Cook them approx. 45 mins or until tender.
After they are cooked allow to cool enough to handle them. (Always wear gloves when cutting beets as they stain your hands!)
Cut the beets to your desired size and shape. You should have approx. 10 cups of beets. Sterilize your jars and seals. Pack your hot jars with the beets and pour the brine over them. Add to the jar 1/2 tsp of canning salt per pint. Seal with hot seals and water bath for 10 mins.
yeilds 6 pints

Hot Pepper Mustard

Hot Pepper Mustard Spread
This spread is great for pretzels, crackers, meat and cheese trays and also good for cooking with chicken or as a spread for hamburgers.
100 hot/mild banana peppers medium sized (grind fine with seeds)
2 quarts of white vinegar
2 quarts of yellow mustard
12 cups of sugar
2 tbs salt
Mix everything and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. While it is simmering mix together: 3 cups of flour and about 6 cups of water. You want to flour to be completely dissolved and mixed well. It should be the consistancy of a thick liquid. Add the mixture to your pepper mix. Boil for 5 minutes stirring constantly.
Sterilize your jars and seals. Pack your jars with the spread and seal with hot seals. Water bath for 20 minutes.
Makes approx. 30 1/2 pints (jelly jars)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Freezing Fresh Corn

So, today just happened to not only be Canning day but Corn day too! Here's our journey through the corn madness:
Papa Baer picked 12 dozen this morning while I was canning Salsa. We gave away 3 dozen (With our other gardening friends...We Co-op for some yummy stuff!!)
Then it was time to husk it all.....................
Papa Baer has a system down, husking it and putting it in the water to chill while we finish it all.
On outside job for sure!
Baby Baer hanging out and playing peek a boo watching us work. :)
Once it's all husked and the silk is removed. Let it soak till your ready to blanch it.
This years crop is sweet white corn. YUM E! It's so good.
Start the water boiling on the stove and add salt to it! I use 2 large stock pots so I can blanch 18 ears in each...3 dozen at a time.
Blanch the corn in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. I blnach mine for 5 because my pots are so big that they really never boil. If the water is boiling....blanch them for 3!
Then comes the task of cutting it all off the cob. *sigh* This is a long process. We have a bunch of different tools we have tried but honestly a knife works the best! We do have the pampered chef corn cutter and it works well. But not really any better then a good old fashion knife!
Then bag it up! We bag it in either 2 cups or 4 cup portions. A little of both. 4 cup portions would be for holidays or recipes that call for a large amount. 2 cups for everyday use!
Make sure you let all the air out and seal them up! Then write on them and your done!
Fresh/Frozen corn for the year with no money spent!

Corn and Black Bean Salsa

Corn and Black Bean Salsa
This salsa is amazing! I use it all year for recipes, snacking, and gifts! As usual I do nothing on a small scale. So you can cut the recipe down and adjust it to your needs. This is just the amount I use for canning. I try to can only once a year for each thing I can so I do it big when I do it!
I use dried black beans and cook them per directions. And I use fresh (previously frozen by me) corn but feel free to subsitute for canned both. If your using canned corn make sure to drain it.
*Note you can change the mixture of pepper ratio for desired heat....this is what works great for me. Some heat but not too hot!
24 Cups of tomatoes chopped (Hand desired size)
10 cups of onions chopped (Food processor)
4 cups of green peppers chopped (food processor)
6 cups of hot peppers chopped (I use a mix of hot banana, jalapenos, and garden salsa peppers)
18 teaspoons of minced garlic (I really should adjust to cup measurement but this is what I know)
6 teaspoons of cumin
4 teaspoons of black pepper
1/2 cup of canning salt
1 1/3 cup of white vinegar
2 cans of tomato sauce (29 oz each)
4 cans of tomato paste (6 oz each)
2 lbs of dried black beans soaked and cooked as directed (If using cans use 8 cans)
12 cups of corn (if using canned use 8 cans)
1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons of lemon juice
Tomatoes, green pepper, and hot peppers. Corn is picked and froze from a friends farm and onions are gotten locally (I don't have luck growing onions) It takes approx 40 tomatoes (nice size) 6 green peppers and about 30 hot peppers to make this recipe. (depending on the size) About 15 onions were used.
There's a mixture of hot banana and sweet banana. I never really sort or measure the number of each. I just use what's on hand! I don't de-seed or do anything crazy with any of the produce. I just cut it up! Removing the cores of the tomatoes and the ends of the peppers. That's about it. I have found that all the extra work with skinning and de-seeding and everything really makes no difference in the end result. Just lots more work.
Dried black beans work GREAT for the recipe. They take a little extra work but I try to steer away from canned stuff (well except my own. haha and that's technically jarred!) The beans soak overnight and then cook for about 2 hours. They can be made ahead if you wanted. I just do it on the same day.
Again with the corn I use fresh corn that we have frozen here. We have a friend that has a farm where we pick it from. We don't have space to grow corn.
Of course thrown in the mix of canning is Baby Baer. Keeping her occupied so she can both see me and me entertained.
Little Miss smiley!
And then there's Little Baer...keeping him entertained as well! He's a little easier cause food makes him happy! :)

After his breakfast of toast, cantaloupe and yogurt...he then had cheese its and animal crackers. LOL Then juice.....It takes alot of bribing to get him to sit for a long time.

And he's ALWAYS ready to ham it up for the camera!

Of course thrown into the mix of craziness in the kitchen are the kitty Baers....At least they can occupy themselves with a friendly (or not so friendly) game of wrestle mania. Hissing and tackling each other is apparently a form of fun for them...

Now that everything is mixed and's ready to simmer for at least 30 minutes. I get my jars ready and in the dishwasher and start the dishwasher (for sterile and hot jars), the water for the hot bath (see Zucchini Relish post for detail instructions on all this) and the simmering all at the same time.

Then while it simmers and the dishwasher runs you can attempt to clean the kitchen....while little Baer helps....

He's still in pjs (Hey it's Sunday...perfect pj day) And is loving the jar rings. Bracelets, Anklets, you name it, they are good for fun! (Baby Baer has given up and taken a nap by this point!)

Tools of the Trade

Jar Funnel: For ease in packing jars

Air getter outer?: For getting the air out of jars after packed and before sealing.

Seal magnet: for retrieving the seals from the simmering water with ease

Jar claw?: For putting jars in and out of water bath without burning yourself. (Papa Baer says stand back though! Water splashes!)

I have no idea of the "real" names for this tool set. But you can purchase it at Walmart for really cheap. And it makes canning easy. And honestly they are really needed. So go buy some! (dress first though so you don't end up like People of Walmart. )

SO....Back to the recipe and directions....

Once your jars are hot. Pack the jars with simmering salsa and seal with your simmering seals. Water bath for 20 minutes and set the jars on a dishtowel and cover with a dishtowel till cool and sealed. DON'T press the seals to check for sealing. Let them cool and then check them. Make sure they all sealed and then you are good to go! This recipe will yeild approx 32 pint size jars of salsa!

Happy Canning!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sweet Zucchini Relish

Sweet Zucchini Relish
This recipe guide is an awesome way to use all that extra zucchini that everyone always finds they have from their garden. This sweet relish is great for hamburgers, hot dogs and recipes like ham bbq, Macaroni salad and basically anything you would use pickle relish for!
This recipe yeilded 21 pints and 5 jelly jars. You can cut it in half (or a third) if you would like a smaller recipe.
34 cups of shredded zucchini (Unpeeled and I use the food processor for quick results)
12 1/2 cups of shredded onions (Food processor here too!)
3 green peppers (chopped....yup food processor)
3 red peppers chopped
15 tablespoons of canning salt
14 cups of sugar
7 1/2cups of vinegar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
5 teaspoons celery seed
2 teaspoons of black pepper
Place shredded zucchini and onion together in a non metal bowl and mix with the salt. Mix well to ensure salt is mixed in well. Cover and place in fridge for overnight.
The next day you want to rinse and drain your zucchini and onion mix. Draining off as much water as you can. Then you can prep the peppers. After you cut up the peppers put them in your pot. I use my roaster pan and turn both burners on. It holds a TON and is not so deep that I have to worry about reaching the bottom to stir it.
Once the peppers are all done then add everything else and heat to boiling.
Once it's boiling turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stirring often.
To the right is the pepper and seasoning mix:
Below is the "finished" product cooking:
You will need to sterilize your jars. I start my jars in my dishwasher at the same time I start the process. That way once the relish is done cooking and ready to can the jars are on the heat drying cycle and hot hot hot! If you don't have a dishwasher you can use the hot bath (I'll describe below) to sterilize and heat your jars. You must heat your jars to have success.
So...relish is simmering, jars are "heating" now you can start your seals simmering. Add the amount of seals you need (Good idea to add an extra jar and seal just in case!) Using a small sauce pan on the stove to heat the seals. A trick I use is to add them to the water 2 at a time and top to top. If you do that you won't have to worry about them sealing together or sticking together making it hard to get out of the water!
So.....Jars are heating, Relish is simmering, seals are heating, kids are crying (oh wait.....that's just here.) Now you can start your water bath.
Fill the largest pot you have. If you have a canning pressure cooker that's great! It will have the bottom rack you need. If you don''s ok. Again you can improvise. Largest pot you have....Filled about halfway with water. If you don't have the rack for the bottom you can place a dishtowel on the bottom of the pan (In the water) this will help steady the jars and assure they aren't touching the actual bottom of the pan. (It works I promise!)
I have the canning pot with rack:
Start the water and bring it to a boil.
Now you can pack your hot jars with the relish and seal them. Wipe your rims of the jars off and make sure you use a butter knife to remove all the air from the jar prior to sealing. You will want to leave about 1/4 -1/2inch space at the top of jar. Use the seal and tighten the ring slightly. Now....I couldn't take pictures of this process because it's a time sensitive thing. Hot jars, boiling relish, hot seals...You get the picture.
Once your jars are sealed: Place them in the water bath for 30 minutes.
Leave space between the jars so they aren't crowded in the pot. And they aren't banging together.
Once they bath in the water (It will boil slightly) you can remove them and set them on a dish towel on the counter. Then cover with another dishtowel. Let them set and seal themselves. DO NOT press the seals to test. Listen for the pops if you're nosey. :) (That's for Papa Baer!) They will seal on their own. They need to cool slowly and seal on their own time.
Once they are cool check the seals to assure that they all sealed. If they are sealed there will be no actual movement of the seal. If the seal moves up and down it didn't seal properly. You can't reseal so put that jar in fridge and eat it first! As not to waste them.
That's it! You're done! good job!