Friday, April 29, 2011

Who has two thumbs and fizz?! This girl!

I know that it isn't very crunchy of me, but I love carbonated beverages!

I have been lusting over home-carbonating gadgets for a couple of years now, but frankly, they have just been out of our budget.

I have had a really rough week this week  (even before my grandfather died yesterday) and clearly, my hubby sensed that I was not in a good place. He ran to REI to get himself a new watch band and came home with my Mother's Day present.

He not only got me a Sodastream, but he got me the Crystal version! I thought I would only ever get the basic version, but he got me one with resealable glass carafes. And I LOVE glass in my kitchen!


The green patch on the lower right hand corner says that it takes no batteries or electricity!

Each bottle of CO2 will make 60 liters of carbonated water and we have a local place where they can be refilled for a really decent price!

Here are the lovely glass bottles, one with the lid on top, not sealed.
Pardon the counter mess- my 1 cup coffee maker and blender are permanent fixtures, even though they take up a ton of room.

Tim also got me a 3 pack of bottles of flavoring.
We've tasted them all and they are all tasty without being overwhelming!
My favorite so far is the orange.

The CO2 bottle (far right) pops into a hole in the bottom.
The bottle of water goes inside the canister.
You close and seal it and press the button on top 3 times to carbonate the water.
Easy peasy!

Raspberry sparkling water, sealed up and going into the fridge to be gulped later!

It's happy beside of my organic ACV!

A good picture of the bubbles!
Mmmmm fizzy!

Being a nerd waffle, I decided to take some fizzy water and combine it with orange juice.
Homemade Orangina, anyone?!
Heck yes!
And of course, I drink it with my Glass Dharma straw.
I LOVE these straws. I've had my 3 for right at 2.5yrs now and not one has broken!

As if my husband didn't absolutely spoil me rotten with that gift,
He encouraged my other addiction:
French cookware.
Specifically, Le Creuset.
Forgive this wanna-be locavore... it's my mother's fault!
(Sorry to throw you under the bus, Mom.)

I tried to fall in love with stoneware, but it is just so darn hard to care for and keep clean! I am a dedicated human being and don't mind things that are high maintenence, but enameled cookware is much more my speed!

This is a BEAUTIFUL baking dish (Tim said it will be perfect for baking up the perfect chicken and I believe he is right on the money!) in my color- the Caribbean blue.

Here is my new baking dish sitting beside of the butter dish my mother got me for my birthday last month. It's just the little things in life, guys...


I am so excited to show you my first EVER canning efforts!

We went out in the yard and foraged some dandelion greens (wilted and served with vinegar = delicious!),
some dandelion blossoms,
some of our borderline invasive mint.

We soaked the dandelion blossoms in water overnight to extract as much of the dandelion goodness as possible!

Keelin was very helpful with washing the mint! Smelled so fresh.

Mint in the jar before we filled it with water!
I can smell it just looking at this picture.

Spicy tomato jelly,
dandelion jelly,
mint jelly!

All perfectly set, all delicious, all properly sealed in the jars!
I can't believe how easy it was to can my own jelly!
If this first timer can experience success, anyone can!

My favorite of the jellies, the "lively" tomato jelly on a slice of my homemade bread!

Recipes :

Dandelion Jelly

Boil 1 quart  of fresh dandelion blossoms (no stems) in 1 quart water for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir juice. Measure out 3 cups of the dandelion juice, add a teaspoon of lemon juice and 1 package of pectin, powdered works best for this recipe. Add 4.5 cups of sugar and boil until gelled. Pour into sterilized canning jars and leave 1/8" of headspace. Wipe the rims well, add lids and rings. 5 minute water bath and you're done! Just wait for the tops to pop!

Note: I cut this recipe in half and it made four 4oz. jelly jars full of jelly! Thanks to Jill at Domestic Reformation for inspiring me!
Tomato Jelly
(makes 6 medium glasses full)

Combine 1 3/4 cups of organic canned or jarred tomato juice, 1/2 cup of fresh strained lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of Tabasco sauce , 4 cups of sugar in a pot  over high heat until it reaches a full boil. Stir in one 3oz. package of liquid fruit pectin and bring to a full boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir, and skim off any foam for about 3 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars, leaving about 1/8" of headspace. Wipe jar rims, adjust lids and rings. Water bath for 5 minutes, then remove and wait for the lids to pop, signaling a good seal!

Note: I used more Tabasco sauce that the recipe called for and it was delicious. I just seasoned to taste and we enjoyed it pretty spicy!

Mint Jelly

Crush 1 1/2 cups of firmly packed mint leaves, fresh. Add 2 1/4 cups of water into saucepan with mint leaves and boil of medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes to extract the minty goodness! Strain through a cheesecloth. Measure out 2 cups of the infusion into a large saucepan. Add 3 1/2 cups of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Boil at full, rolling boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and immediately add in one 3oz. package of liquid pectin. Stir and skim for about 5 minutes. Pour immediately into warm, sterilized jars leaving about 1/4" of headspace. Seal with hot lids and rings, waterbath for 5 minutes, then let set!

Note: I let my mint soak for a whole afternoon after it was cleaned, crushed, and boiled. Most recipes I read also said to add a couple of drops of green food coloring, but I opted to leave it out. I didn't feel any need to add color to something already so yummy- it wouldn't have enhanced anything but the look.

Do you have any delicious jelly recipes or fruit preserve recipes to share? I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

sweet baby goodness for baby Finn < 3

As promised, here is a sneak peak at some of the sweetness we have collected for Baby Finn!
Our goal was to buy ALL pre-owned, handmade, thrifted, etc.

So far, that has been achieved and with amazing results!

A rainbow (insert warm fuzzies here) afghan I found in a thrift store for $4.00
It's HUGE! So it will be great to toss on the hardwood floors for him!

A pair of shorties bought used from another mom.
I got a great deal and they are rainbow, but super boyish, which isn't a common combination of traits!

A pair of baby booties purchased on Etsy from Heather's Hobbies
I thought the colors were incredible and they are SO soft!

A sleep sack knit by Zab's Mom on Mosaic Moon wool-
The colorway is "Barn Owl"and it was our first custom for Finn!

speesees booties- new,from another mom

babysoy sleep gown, bought new from another mom
LOVE the colors and it is beyond soft

Incredibly soft and comfy looking!

Our mobile made by Drea of ohdeardrea!
A bumblebee, a hedgehog, an owl, a mushroom, rain clouds, and poo!
LOVE it and adore Drea's blog!
Go check her out!! :)

Garden update- part 2!

We had some green, plastic chicken-wire looking stuff leftover from making some repairs around the chicken coop. Tim and I came up with the idea together to use leftover fence posts and that material to make a bean trellis! Don't mind the incredible amount of grass in that part of the garden. I neglected that side of the garden when the rains were coming so often, so the grass sprung up. The other side of the garden looks great, this side is our project for next week!

In this picture, you can see some of the trees that blew down in the nasty storms we've had lately AND one of my teeny new peach trees!
This is a teeny part of the crazy mint patch we have growing beside our house!
We're putting it in our sweetened black tea, have made jelly with it (post to come this week on that adventure!), and looking for more recipes!
I'm very excited to have this resource available to me!

Have you discovered anything cool growing wild near your home?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I really try to avoid going overboard for holidays, but the newness of life that comes around this time of year just makes a girl want to celebrate!

I save our egg cartons from the farmer's market- they're recycled cardboard and clearly good for many things!

I spiffied this up for Keelin!

And I filled it with the recycled cardboard eggs I painted her last week.
I originally made 6 and then decided to do another half dozen to fill up an egg carton! I'm not usually creative in my own right, so that was a borderline stroke of genius for me ;)

She absolutely loves them and played farmer's market with Jackson!

Here is my favorite, the robin's egg blue!
It looks a lot like some of the Americauna and Araucana eggs I've purchased!
Now, if only my hens would start laying ;)

She painted her garden stone with her Mima, my mother.

We decided to fill up a tub of water, for whatever reason.
You know my kids got into it! :)

And yes, well water is pretty darn cold!!

Jackson isn't quite sure what Keelin is squealing about-
the water isn't so bad once you get used to it ;)

Also included in the babes' Easter baskets were the peg people I painted last week, some small versions of my gardening tools, sorting balls and cups, etc.

They seem to have really enjoyed them and it just gives me warm fuzzies to see them enjoying the toys that I spent a few nights staying up late painting and hiding before they woke back up. :)

The Great Cloth Diaper Change!

My friend Dana  and I decided to go to The Great Cloth Diaper Change!
We drove to a location about an hour away and were two of the 31 parent/kid diaper changers there!

It was a TON of mommies worldwide setting a Guiness Book of World Records record for the most cloth diapers changed at one time! Cool, huh?

Jackson and Leeland, Dana's son
I was keeping Jackson occupied with stickers!

Little Leeland and Dana
The 4 of us!

Dana snapped a quick photo of me starting to change Jackson's diaper to help set a world record!
Thank you, Dana!

Happy Jackson!

Playing Peek-a-Boo so he wouldn't feel the need to find entertainment.

There were a bunch of really rowdy kids, so after one knocked Jackson down, I tried to keep him a bit closer to me. I knew that if that kiddo knocked Jackson down again, I would have had a word with his mom- and I wasn't in the mood to have to lay the smackdown! ;) haha

Jackson post-Peek-a-Boo.
Nice hair, dude.

The 4 of us again!
I just love my little boy, sticker face and all!

Keelin really wanted to go, but she spent the day with her dad, instead.
I was bored out of my mind before it started, so I know she would have been miserable!

Post-change! Jackson and his world record holding tush!

Since we were two of the first 25 people to arrive (we got there first- woo!), we got awesome swag bags! This is the logo on the outside of my reusable shopping bag.

5, yes 5, samples of Rockin Green, my favorite!
It's the only thing I use on our fluff and I LOVE it!
Forgot to rotate this one... two samples of Country Save detergent and a sample of Eco-Sprout detergent!

Wipe cubes and coffee scented kitchen soap samples.
Not sure how I feel about coffee scented soap :)

The event was sponsored by Sweetbottoms Boutique and we really appreciated their sponsorship!
It was a great experience and we can't wait to get his certificate of participation!

My friend Dana has a blog called A Look Into The Kroh's Nest, so check her out and enjoy her beautiful blog!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Just a quick coop update!

Just a quick update on the chicken coop-
Otherwise known as the soap opera,
"As the Coop Turns"
The bottom of the chicken wire wasn't quite as safe as I wanted it, since the ground is uneven and there were a few places that a determined snake or something could get under.

Tim remedied the issue by cutting trees that fell in the storm and putting them around the entire length of the chicken fence. He stuck a chair our there for me and we now jokingly refer to it as "the Observation Deck."

The other new thing is the left side of the fence. It all used to be super low to the ground, but Tim wanted me to be able to get in there easily even when my belly gets ginormous, so he built a frame and lifted it up! He's pretty awesome! I was just going to squat down and hope for the best, but thanks to my hubby, I don't have to worry about it anymore!

It did require the purchase of some chicken wire, but all of the wood was leftover from other projects, found in the woods/yard, or recycled!

Everyone, meet Hugh Heffner. He's our new Silver-Laced Wyandotte rooster! Isn't he handsome? Tim named him, saying it was only appropriate for the only rooster in the hen house! And so far, he seems to be quite the ladies man! He's been pretty polite with the crowing and he's got lovely manners, so hopefully it stays that way!

In other news, only a few more things need to happen to the yard before we are ready to let the chickens roam free some during the day! I am looking forward to seeing them go nuts in the yard after Tim mows and the bugs are out! They're going to be in hen heaven!

Garden update!

Just a few pictures, because there is nothing terribly impressive happening quite yet-
The garden update, as promised!
I had no luck with my rosemary plants from seeds, so I bought this great plant (bottom left) from Lowe's.
On the right, you can see a few tomato plants.
The markers are all root veggies, like horseradish, garlic, shallots, and taters!

One of our little strawberry plants!
I know you're supposed to pinch them back the first year, but I just can't bring myself to pinch them all back. I pinched off the blossoms of all but a few, so the kids could have a few strawberries this year (that we grew.)

A teeny "practice" peach on one of our trees. It KILLED me to pinch them off, but I know the trees need to focus on their root production and not fruit production. Hopefully, we will be overrun with peaches in about 5 years!