“Doing” Update

Well the month is up, I definitely slowed down on progress, but I’m still moving.

make Thai Sweet Chili sauce DONE!  It’s amazing!
Try a new pizza dough recipe Done, didn’t really love it though still looking…

Redoing and cleaning up family job chart  In the middle of it now.
process almost 30 pounds of winter squash and pressure can or freeze I did some of it.

I’ve done a few other things, but since I wasn’t recording things I cant say off the top of my head.  Halloween was awfully busy, and I had a lot of sewing problems.  I guess getting better at sewing should go on the list.

Yet to do-
write list of easy family approved meal ideas and hang it in a protective sleeve inside a cupboard door
write a list of easy Mom approved after school snacks for the boys and put it up for them
find and try MANY new great potato recipes (I have nearly 50 pounds!)
Go through entire kitchen and set aside things for donation, as well as organize things
Go through Workshop and do the same
Go through craft area and do the same
Build craft desk
get all laundry done at once
go through kids clothes and save/donate/toss what’s not in good shape or doesn’t fit or won’t fit anyone.
start a Christmas project or two for my babies

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Month of Doing

A few weeks ago a friend of mine challenged a little group of our friends to a month of Pinterest *doing.*  Well…  Due to privacy issues and not being able to block someone who I don’t want contact with, I’ve left it to sit for a while.  I can take it or leave it.  However this challenge was great motivation to get going.  I NEEDED this so bad.  Kevin and I have had a hard year.  We’ve lost three grandparents between us, had a few other personal losses, and had a bit of other drama that left me reeling and feeling out of control.  I know we have a lot to be grateful for, a good education for Kevin, three wonderful kids, a home and a great job for Kevin, to name a very small tip of the scale.  So knowing that I wouldn’t spend hours combing Pinterest to think up fabulous projects, just because I’m being cautious about getting sucked into it, I just got to work.  Some of it needed to be done anyway.

So here’s my list, I actually also started a Pinterest board just for the stuff I’ve finished.

Canned pear jelly
Canned carrot cake jam
Canned ginger pear preserves
Made vegetable stock from scratch
We went to a “pick you own” farm and got 10 grocery bags of tomatoes, and a bonus pumpkin for $30, screaming deal!
Made butternut squash soup from scratch
Deep cleaned using my own home made cleaner
Canned 28 quarts of tomatoes with my Mom
New recipe of Sloppy Joes using a huge chunk of the veggie puree left over from the veggie stock
Mexican Hot Cocoa (normal hot cocoa with cinnamon sticks steeped, and a splash of vanilla)
Canned pizza sauce (first time using my Mom’s Victorio Strainer by myself, and first time processing raw produce with it)
Canned salsa verde, with the very last of the tomatoes
Made wassail with fresh cranberries and oranges (old recipe, but I’ve never put cranberries in it before)
Chicken noodle soup from scratch
Baking soda and vinegar cleaning, deep cleaned entire stove
Home made saltines, one batch with Sonny’s Angel Dust in the dough, the other sprinkled with sea salt

My goals before I lose steam. (don’t plan on losing steam, just know it’s kinda inevitable)

Redoing and cleaning up family job chart
write list of easy family approved meal ideas and hang it in a protective sleeve inside a cupboard door
write a list of easy Mom approved after school snacks for the boys and put it up for them
process almost 30 pounds of winter squash and pressure can or freeze
make Thai Sweet Chili sauce
Try a new pizza dough recipe
find and try MANY new great potato recipes (I have nearly 50 pounds!)
Go through entire kitchen and set aside things for donation, as well as organize things
Go through Workshop and do the same
Go through craft area and do the same
Build craft desk
get all laundry done at once
go through kids clothes and save/donate/toss what’s not in good shape or doesn’t fit or won’t fit anyone.
start a Christmas project or two for my babies

And I could go on for forever!!  Maybe I’ll be back soon with some of my recipes for future reference.  All of the canning recipes can be found in the Ball book of home preserving linked in the previous post.  Most other recipes are just out of my head of from allrecipe.com.

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Zesty Watermelon Jelly

I’ve been sharing more recipes lately, mostly because my new years resolution this year was to learn how to be a better home maker and to be better at contributing better to preserving family finances, I’m definitely making steps in the right direction, but by no means do I claim to be an expert.  I do find a lot of joy in cooking and baking, and it’s something my kids enjoy as well, so it’s easy to be enthused about those things with them.  What mother doesn’t want her kids to gobble up the food she makes and say “Oh Mom, this is the best dinner ever!” at every single meal?

Zesty Watermelon Jelly
from “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, 400 Delicious and Creative Recipes for Today

Makes about five 8 oz. jars.

6 cups chopped watermelon
1/2 cup white balsamic, white wine, or apple cider vinegar.
4tbsp lemon juice
5 cups sugar
1 stem lemongrass chopped
2 pouches of liquid pectin

1. In a large stainless steel sauce pan crush watermelon with a potato masher.  Cover and heat gently over medium-low heatfor 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and crush throughly.

2. Transfer to a dampened jelly bag or a strainer lined with several layers of dampened cheesecloth set over a deep bowl.  Let drip undisturbed, for 2 hours.  Measure two cups watermelon juice.  If you do not have the required amount, crush more watermelon or add up to 1/4 cup unsweetened white grape juice.

3. Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids.

4. Transfer watermelon juice to a clean large, deep stainless steel saucepan.  Stir in vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and lemongrass.  Over hight heat, stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.  Stir in pectin.  Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 2 minute.  Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam.

5. Quickly pour hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Wipe rim.  Center lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

6.Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to boil and process for 10 minutes.  Remove canner lid, Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.



My notes~

Oh, heavens this is sticky!  Be ready with about 5 fresh washcloths out and a clean dish scrubbing brush to use as you go.

Have someone handy when you’re boiling the jelly and adding ingredients, it’s pretty hard to stir and add the pectin at the same time.

I used an entire smaller medium watermelon and got 9 cups of juice, I think it was a juicier than normal watermelon.  We drank a cup of it and used the rest to make a quadruple batch.  It was fun, but I think I’ll just juice some apples and carrots next time to make a yummy drink with left over juice, and make a double batch at most, the sheer quantity of jelly was overwhelming to process.

Yield was supposed to be 5 half pint (8 oz) jars.  With my 4X recipe I got 25 half pints and 2 pints, so a tiny more than 7 jars for a “normal” size recipe, I was a little generous with the lemon juice, but that would only account for like 1/4 cup.

For the balsamic/wine/vinegar, I used about half white cooking wine, and half cider vinegar.  This makes for less alcohol than something else you’d eat with vanilla extract for comparison, plus most should boil off with all the hard boiling required to can properly.  This was my first experience with wine, and it was interesting, it smells just like vinegar.  I hope I haven’t offended anybody by my use of alcohol.

I wasn’t able to find stalks of lemon grass, but my grocer had tubes of chopped lemongrass next to the pre cut veggies and fruit, bagged salad, and refrigerated dressings.  The recipe called for 1 stalk, so for my 4X batch I used 2/3 of the tube as they claim there are 6 stalks worth of lemongrass per tube.

Yes, I absolutely do see myself making this again in a few years.

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Chocolate Banana Bread

OK, so I tried something new today, I don’t LOVE the results, I’d give it a 4/5 rating if was a recipe I found online.  I added cocoa powder to a recipe I already had, it was a different recipe than the one I’d used last time, but by reading the ingredients, I thought this one might be better.

Here Goes!

Chocolate Banana Bread

Preheat oven to 350 and grease 1 9X5 loaf pan or two small loaf pans

1/2 cup butter (one stick)
1 cup sugar

cream together, then turn mixer to slow

2 eggs
1 1/2 cup mashed banana (I just chunk up 2 ripe bananas and drop them into the mixer)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix until banana’s aren’t in huge chunks, but not too much so that you don’t start to whip up the eggs.

In another bowl mix~

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
a pinch of ground clove
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbsp. Ghirardelli Ground Chocolate (if using another brand of baking cocoa, you’d probably cut this in half, this kind is cut with a bit of sugar, I was not thrilled when I opened the can to see those sugar sparkles, I thought I was getting pure cocoa, I guess I learned my lesson…)

Turn the mixer back on at the stir setting (lowest gear)

Scoop about 3/4 cup dry mix at a time into the batter, I usually just use a heaping 1/2 cup measuring scoop.

Scrape the bowl and mix a tiny more, just until everything is incorporated.  If you were going to add mini chocolate chips or nuts now’s the time.

Using a rubber spatula pour into loaf pan.

Bake about an hour, checking at 50 minutes, bake until toothpick clean.

Remove immediately to wire rack if you like a crunchy crust, if not allow to cool in the pan.

NEXT time I make banana bread I’m just going to go with the other recipe I like, it’s on allrecipes.com labeled “Best Ever Banana Bread.”  I’ll link it for ya, but it seems every time I try to link there the links break…

Here’s a little pic of my treat tonight!

And one more.

Why yes, that’s a pretty iridescent counter!  Thanks for noticing! We got it for a steal at the local granite shop when I couldn’t cope anymore with our old bar.  Someday we might even get to the rest of the counters in there, oh and a new sink…  And maybe even new cabinets.  That’s FAR FAR future.  After we tackle my bathroom, and maybe the boys bathroom too…  Ahh, dreaming…  I am very blessed, and I do love the style of my kitchen, I just wish you couldn’t see my sink from the front door.

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Ten Years Ago Today

My sweetheart took me to the temple and we were sealed for time and eternity.

Happy Tenth Anniversary to my sweetheart Kevin, it’s been wonderful! You are the best thing in my life, your patience and giving attitude are wonderful. I can’t wait for every moment more!

We’ve gone through SO much, surprise babies, secondary infertility, near death experiences, car accidents, heart break, life altering diagnoses, dishonesty, loyalty, huge moves, living with the in-laws, severe depression, super joy, young love, and so much more. It’s all made us stronger.


Two and a half years ago


At the Oregon Zoo on our trip to revisit his Mission area

A heart shape rock we found on the Oregon Coast

The two of us at Temple Square in the Tabernacle, one week before his Crohn’s nearly took his life.

Last Summer, on my birthday, and the day Michael was baptized.

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Aww cute.

My Family from WiddlyTinks.com

Now if we could only get a REAL picture…

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MY Favorite internet time killer…

I love this site, it’s fun to put together outfits and see things without pulling out my clothes, it also helps me realize where I might want to fill in my wardrobe next time I have a little $$.

Airy Vintage

Airy Vintage by Teal Toes featuring a ruffle maxi dress

By Malene Birger ruffle maxi dress
$254 - net-a-porter.com

Frye vintage style shoes
190 CAD - gravitypope.com

97 GBP - my-wardrobe.com

Diamond jewelry
$6,250 - georgianjewelry.com

Emerald jewelry
$150 - overstock.com

Straw hat
$13 - tillys.com

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Kevin sent me a Candy Basket and a Candle through the florist on Friday.  These totally made my weekend as I was having a rough day (more on that later) and it was totally unexpected as it came three days early.

Valentines day was busy as my Mom and I helped with Aiden’s class party.  Kevin’s Mom offered to take the boys for us, so we could have dinner by ourselves.  I don’t like going out to dinner on Valentines because EVERYONE goes out that night, so you spend most of what’s supposed to be an intimate evening crammed into a small waiting area with a lot of other people or outside trying to stay warm, then you rush through dinner so you can make it back to the babysitter in a reasonable amount of time.  What’s the point?  Not my idea of romantic…  I’d thought of reenacting some of our early dates with Arby’s or movies we’d watched early on, but Kevin was a dear and brought home Arby’s for Dinner on Thursday night.  So we ended up making a steak dinner.

This is the table just before we sat down to eat.  Kinda informal for a tablescape, but that wasn’t the point.  We had a great time.

We had my Mother in law’s recipe for salad, it’s oh so yummy.
Spring mix and romaine
Red onions
Mandarin oranges

Tomatoes (ours were yellow, because that’s what came in our produce box last week)

Cashiews (slivered almonds are great too)
It’s better with poppy seed dressing, but we had a raspberry vinaigrette.
It would also be a tasty complete meal with grilled chicken.

We had grilled New York steak marinaded with A1 pepper and onion marinade, with a side of garlic and herb pasta and store bought dinner rolls.  To drink we had sparkling cider with a tablespoon of Pineapple Coconut juice.

For Dessert we made Cinnamon Bread Pudding

I chunked up a little more than half a loaf of bakery fresh cinnamon bread and set it aside

Warmed on the stove top ~1/3 cup butter and ~2 cups milk

Mixed in another bowl
~2 slightly beaten Eggs
~1/2 cup sugar
~Plenty of Cinnamon and Nutmeg
~few twists of salt

I mixed up the bread and the egg mixture, then poured on and carefully folded in the milk and butter.

Baked uncovered in my crock pot (just the pot part) in the oven @ 350 for 45 minutes.

We ate it almost straight out of the oven with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.  Mmmmm!  What we didn’t eat last night, the boys and I finished off for Breakfast today.  This is going to be one of our go-to recipes now!  It was heaven in a spoon! It’s also nice to find a richer, more savory dessert that doesn’t contain chocolate as Kevin’s allergic to Chocolate, but craves the none fruity sweets occasionally.  Next time we’ll add raisins.

We went and got the boys, got them to bed and went to the Theater and watched the first half of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, we’d never heard it in English, just watched it with subtitles, before practically falling to sleep.

It was a very good day and night.  I wish we could have a day like that at least once a month!

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My new FAVORITE easy dessert.






IMO, there is enough filling for two crusts.  When we made it, we did 7 mini pies and a regular size Oreo crust.

I don’t like having overflowing crusts unless it’s banana or coconut cream pies.

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I was planning on writing a big thankful note, but I just spent my time enjoying my family instead.  Had a great time!

Here’s a few pics from our day.

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