Wednesday, June 29, 2011

K turns 5 at the BEACH! (Part 1 - Pic Heavy)

The sweetest girl on the planet,
Keelin-Elise !
Came to us weighing 7lbs. 15oz. and looking around!
Now, she's hilarious and smart!
Starting kindergarten in just over a month.

Jackson Cole, the baby brother who keeps her on her toes!

You can see the wheels turning in his brain!

She was afraid of the waves last year, but not this year!

Jackson thought it was pretty cool!
Last year, he was a cling-on little guy.

Sassy faced girl- not sure what she was being silly about!

Trying to show Jackson how to make a sand castle!

And Godzilla could not be stopped.

He was merciless.

"I squished it, Mommy."

Little sand monster!

Keelin, looking very surprised!

Showing off!

Just gorgeous!

Keelin trying to get Jackson to NOT destroy every sand castle in a 5 mile radius.


These were taken right when we got there. I hadn't planned on getting in the water until the next day, but I went to the car and changed into my bathing suit, per the kids request!

The waves are a lot more fun when Mommy hangs on to you!

That one was a little stronger than Jackson anticipated-
LOL @ his face!

So much fun!

This just melts my heart!
They adore each other.

Keelin thinks the best part about her birthday being at the end of June is the fireworks that happen to celebrate the 4th of July! We were able to catch a nice fireworks show and Tim managed to capture some amazing pictures. This was my favorite one in terms of color.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You wanted recipes? You got 'em! (pic heavy)

I officially have a second to type out some recipes!
Here are a few to get you started.

Apple Butter
5 pounds of tart apples (I use organic, Granny Smith)
½ teaspoon of allspice
2 cups of apple cider vinegar (I used my Spectrum organic, unrefined)
3 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
½ to 2/3 cup of sugar per 1 cup of apple pulp
½ teaspoon of nutmeg
Quarter the apples, removing the cores and stems. Add the ACV and cook the apples until soft Grind the apples and measure carefully- add ½ to 2/3 cup of sugar per 1 cup of apple pulp. Add dry spices mixing well. Cook on low heat, stirring often for a couple of minutes, until well mixed. Spoon into sterile jars leaving ¼ inch of headspace and seal with a ten minute water bath. Makes about 3 pints.

Tomato Jelly
1 ¾ cups of tomato juice (I used the organic bottled kind from Earth Fare)
½ cup of lemon juice
2 teaspoons of Tabasco sauce (I use more to make it spicy!)
4 cups of sugar
3 ounces of liquid pectin
Combine tomato juice, lemon juice, and sugar. Bring to a full boil. Add pectin and boil mixture for about 1 minute. Remove from heat, stirring gently- skim off any foam. Put into sterile jars, leaving ¼ inch of headspace and process with a 5 minute water bath.

Peach Jam
4 cups of finely chopped peach (good and ripe, but not overripe)
¼ cup of lemon juice
7 ½ cups of sugar
1 pouch of liquid pectin
Measure the fruit and heat with the sugar to a boil. Add in the pectin, boil for 1 full minute. Pour into sterile jars leaving ¼ inch of headspace and process for 10 minutes in a water bath.

Strawberry Jam-
I suggest using the recipe that comes on the insert of whatever pectin you're using to make it. Mine called for 6 cups of crushed strawberries, most call for that amount, but it's best to go with what is recommended by the company producing the pectin. Using different recipes, I've had different results in how firm the set is, but my best results have been following what is recommended for the specific pectin!

Dill Pickles-
I've been using an all natural premade mix for my dill pickles and they've turned out beautifully. I am planning to venture into homemade solution mixes, but wanted my first few batches to be pretty foolproof to gain some confidence.

Pickled Carrots-
Tim thinks these sound gross, but I love them!
I made a homemade pickling solution for these and it turned out well, so I'll definitely be trying it for our next batch of pickled cukes.

Will post the recipe when I get the time to pickle this weekend!

Peaches in Light Syrup-
Yep, just like you find at the grocery store BUT made with organic, NC grown peaches and organic sugar (not much of it, either!)

These are freakin' delicious and I'll post a tutorial for them next week sometime. I'm planning to make more!

((the clear jelly on the left))

Wine Jelly
2 cups of wine (I used Moscato)
3 cups of sugar
3 ounces of liquid pectin
Mix sugar and wine in a double boiler for 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in the pectin, making sure there is no foam- about 1 minute. Pour into sterile jars leaving ¼ inch of headspace and process for 5 minutes in a water bath.

And the cool thing about everything I just posted?
All can be made with a water bath, no pressure canner necessary.
Great for those of us just starting out!

Summer Fun

When it's warm outside--

Keelin wants to learn, Jackson wants to cause trouble.

Jackson gets put in timeout.

Keelin does her thing.

Jackson does his thing.

I get hit with a couple of balls.

Our dogs show their smart sides ;)
Look at those big, goofy faces!

Keelin gets some smelly kisses.

Max demonstrates his incredible level of patience for only being a year old.

Jessie wants to give Keelin seconds.
You can tell how she feels about that!

Have I mentioned lately

that I adore my garden?

Today's haul was a 12 pound bag of:
3 kinds of peppers: sweet bell, jalapeno, and green chilis
huge zucchini

loads of cucumbers!

delicious salad greens (a bit bitter, which is perfect)
lots of green beans!

((Oh, and my Bradley natural childbirth book! haha))

A picture of our salad from dinner tonight.
It just does something for my soul knowing I planted the cucumbers and lettuce from seeds-
and now it sits on our dinner plates.

It's official- I am addicted to gardening.

Our skin is glowing from the time outdoors, our meals are healthier, our carbon footprint is smaller, we've in turn discovered a love of rain barrels, composting, and the chickens love the scraps they get from me trimming up the veggies! And the chicken treats turn into delicious eggs that I get to cook with, bake with, and give away!

This is a picture (that I jacked from her Facebook) of a Thank You present we dropped off at our buddy, Darlene's house. She took care of the kids for me for many hours so I could be at the hospital with my dad when Tim was traveling for work. We sent her a few eggs, peach jam, blueberry jam, strawberry jam, apple butter, peaches in light syrup, and dill pickles! It is nothing compared to what she did for us while my attention needed to be elsewhere, but it was nice that my garden (and farmer's market), chickens, and newly discovered canning skills could be useful for gift giving!

Crazy 5th Birthday Cake Adventures! (post beach)

We use India Tree dyes for our food, since Keelin is especially sensitive synthetic dyes (the worst for her is red dye #40)

The present Jackson picked out for his big sister! We showed him a few online and he picked the "fish-kabobs" for Keelin all by himself- hehe :)

Playing "Farmer's Market" while they waited for Keelin's cupcakes to bake.

Uh, yeah.
I overfilled those suckers.

The colors were really nice!
The cake was delish!
But definitely not the prettiest ever.
Because you can't tell, they were supposed to be a lady bug, a butterfly, a dragonfly, and a bumble bee

And the kids didn't even notice that the cakes looked strange- they just enjoyed making the batter, dying the different bowls, layering the colors, and eating what they worked to make.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Catching up-

Thanks for bearing with me, y'all!

Dad is out of the hospital and starting the recovery process at home.
So thankful that ribs heal- even when it's ten of them!

Just a little photo catch up from the last week--

Geocaching on Father's Day!

Had a sleepover with my girl in our room while Tim was away in Georgia for work!
She thought she looked like a little granny lady in my glasses!

When my Aunt Valerie came to visit my dad in the hospital, she brought me my grandmother Sarah's pressure canner. A precious thing be given/to have, especially during the midst of my dad's ICU stay.

I hit 29 weeks!

And 30 weeks!

Today is Keelin's 5th Birthday, so I'll update soon with pictures of her birthday beach trip and cake making!