Tuesday, July 19, 2011

strawberry jam

i've wanted to make jam and can it for a couple of years now, but i had always felt a little intimidated by the process.  i didn't have any supplies, but this year i was determined that i would at least give it a shot.  i did a little researching online, checked out some books from the library and got a little pep talk from my grandma.  i was fairly confident i would be able to do it, but i wouldn't know for sure until i tried.

it actually was a little easier than i had anticipated.  don't get me wrong, it still took a good amount of time.  i think the next time will be a lot easier...like anything else right?  we gathered our supplies...the jars, the canning kit (the jar holder, the funnel, the magnetic lid lifter and the tool to get bubbles out), the canning pot with the wire rack, pectin, and the fruit, of course.  we ended up using a different pectin then the one pictured above.  we used the low sugar one.
first, we got the jars sterilized and ready.
the strawberries cleaned and hulled
the kids had fun smashing up the strawberries.
the cooking time was a lot shorter than i thought it would have been.  the kids helped ladle the fruit into the jars.
then we popped the jars into the canning pot to boil for another 10 minutes.
we couldn't wait and had to dig in to one jar as soon as it had cooled.
it seriously doesn't get much better than that!!
if you are thinking about jammin' there are so many resources and recipes online.
we made 7 half pint jars with 4 one pound baskets of strawberries (actually 3 1/2 baskets...we ate about half a basket while we were washing them).  next time i will try a much larger batch.  the time consuming part is just getting the jars all prepped.  cooking the fruit and jarring it was the easy part.

i think we will have to make some pickled eggs this week...ugh, that kind of makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it.
we will try peach and mango jam this week, though.

Monday, July 18, 2011

long shorts...short capris...culottes...clam diggers??

 i'm not really sure what to call these, but ella has a new pair for her hula hoopin' summer days.
i had an old pair of pants that didn't fit right and had paint splattered here and there that i decided to make shorts out of them for myself.  with the left over bottom half of the pants i tried a little something that is new for me and made these little...let's just call them 'culottes' for ella.
here is how i made them:
pant legs
 ripped the inside seam down low enough for the rise and the top waistband. 
 sewed the two sides together, topstitched and  
 sewed the top waistband leaving a small opening for the elastic.
 threaded elastic through  waistband and sewed down on the sides so that only the back is gathered.  top-stitched another seam about 1/4" from top and added a small tie in the front for styling.
added a little elastic at the bottom and sewed the ties that were already there in place.
 time to hula hoop.

Friday, July 15, 2011

spin it!!

 i remember having one of these spin art machines when i was kid and it was one of my favorites.  
 this was well over and hour of entertainment...perfect! 

ah, to be a kid again...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

embrace the camera :: go, go, go!!!

 the past couple of weeks have been so much fun and so tiring at the same time.   yesterday was no exception.  last night when i finally got into bed, my bed felt like perfection.  
7:30 out of bed
7:40 coffee...thanks babe
8:00 breakfast for the kids
8:15 call mom and wish her happy birthday!!!
9:00 get ready, make lunches
10:30 off to knott's
10:40 stop at target for sunblock that i forgot at home
11:00 arrive at knott's
 run, play, ride, jump, 

 4:00 arrive home and carry kids inside to continue sleeping
4:15 start making dinner - enchiladas and tomato/ cucumber salad
5:00 clean up a little while dinner is cookin'
5:30 wrap mom's gift and andy gets home
5:35 mom arrives and we eat dinner
6:00 mom and i leave for the movies and hear the kid's crying as we leave
6:20 arrive at movies and meet up with my cousin and my aunt
6:45 movie starts - (tree of life)
7:15 we leave movie ( all i have to say is - did someone change the channel?)
and go into bridesmaids - hilarious and a little raunchy...ok a lot raunchy, but i think i almost peed my pants.
9:45ish...i think, we head home
10:00 hang out with andy and indulge in a root beer float
10:30 i wake up on the couch
10:35 into bed...ahhhhh! 

it felt so good to get to bed early, why don't i do this more often?

summer lovin' for sure here in our parts!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

on my mind...

today we are off to get some butterflies in our stomach and hoping not too many people are headed to the same destination.

thinking about how to fill a blank wall in the kid's new shared room.  i like this idea.

going through a lot of different recipes for canning.  there will be a lot of jam, but also looking for a good way to preserve some of our tomatoes.

cutting more fabric for our summer quilt.  maybe it will be done by the end of summer.  it is going to be very basic, but i wish i could make something like this.

i want to try this buttermilk syrup recipe.  

loving the new look in our backyard.

off to play.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

summer bread

 our little veggie garden is in full force right now.  our tomatoes and zucchini are the front runners with how much we have harvested.  i can always find ways to use up our tomatoes, but sometimes with zucchini i get a little stumped.  we have had many pasta dishes and zucchini soups, but we still have more zucchini.  i can't believe that i had completely forgotten about zucchini bread.  it's one of my favorites. 
 i use the martha stewart zucchini spice bread recipe and change it up just a little...a little less sugar and i add pecans
here it is:


  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar (i use about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • i love to throw in a big handful of pecan pieces


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, and set aside. Grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grater (to yield 1 3/4 cups); set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together sugars, oil, vanilla, and eggs.
  2. Into a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, and stir to combine well. Stir in grated zucchini.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes; invert onto a wire rack, then reinvert, top side up. Cool completely before slicing.

this is a really quick recipe and oh so good.
i have already made a couple of loaves and i think i will make a couple more.

Monday, July 11, 2011

the rules of camping

 this past weekend we did a little long-weekend camping at the beach with my family and logged many hours in the sun.  the weather was beautiful, sunny with a light cool breeze.
 by the time we set up camp on the first day it was already late afternoon so we let the kids play by the water and set the rules- you can go in the water, but don't get your clothes wet.  i think that it is physically impossible for kids to stay dry near any source of water.  the sun was setting and the air was cooling as we headed back up the wooden stairs with a group of happy soaked kids.  hey, we were camping, and when we are camping the rules bend quite a bit...

 here are a few of our rules:
 there are no naps...so there are occasionally a few more tears.

 there are almost no limits with the sweets...shave ice, s'mores, pie, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, hot chocolate, cheese cake and muffins.  i'm not kidding...not all in one sitting of course.

 there are very, very late nights by the fire...meaning (no bed time).
bed time is when you fall asleep.

and sometimes you just sleep in what you were wearing when you fell asleep.

so the rules got bent just a little, and you can tell by these smiling faces that they did not mind one bit.

looking at my pictures i feel like i missed out on taking pictures of the other half of our group and what we did most of the time...playing at the beach.  i didn't take my camera to the beach the rest of the days because it was just a little too much with chairs, bags, umbrella, sand toys, surf boards, wet suits, boogie boards and snacks...
we spent a lot of time playing in the water, catching sand crabs, building castles, digging holes, playing smash ball, snacking, sitting for 2 minutes and getting up to do it all again.
i LOVE camping and bending the rules!!!!