Pickled

For real!
I honestly and truly thought that when the kids went back to school I would have more time…well you know productive time..less time spent trailing kids around wiping counters, throwing away half eaten fruit and flushing toilets…you know typical Maid mom chores.

Well it turns out that is not the case.  I have to admit I volunteered  was assigned to be in charge of the PTA fall school fundraiser….WTH? I had not idea what behind the PTA scenes meant. Parents coming together for the greater good of kids and school right?  Mostly but add in some high school BS,  me in my running gear, hat, and no shower with the mom who is in heels, the cutest tunic and leggings and looking fabulous…I am not sure this is my bag.  Proof of this being that some huge pile of laundry ATE my laundry room…whatevs, I am slinging cookie dough and cookbooks. For the kids.

Truth is right now I wish I was as thin as I have spread myself.

Jon I gone doing clinical hours in WI 2 days and one night a week and has taken on a schedule of 36 hour weekends at the hospital to get his hours in at work = paychecks! So we are buying cookies, magazines and counting the days to his FNP graduation in December 2014!!

I am working really hard on ebay and have a steady 5 clients that I consign for along with my own thrifted/bargain price new kids clothing and goodies and am on target for my biggest month….you can check out my store here Saronjah 😉

Meanwhile the garden is sputtering out its last offerings and we are heading into fall and Halloween…our family’s favorite holiday.

I did have time to make some refrigerator pickles, a friend gave me a recipe last year that I saved, took shopping and lost somewhere in my purse after buying all the ingredients…I can’t be alone here can I ?
So these are sitting in our fridge, all calm, cool, and pickling while our life runs past like videos on fast forward.

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I will share the recipe, that we punted with in a few weeks if we deem them edible.

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Frozen Raspberry Lemonade Popsicles

Today marks the official first day of summer…I know some of you have been enjoying summer weather for a while, but blue skies and wispy clouds combined with higher mercury readings are finally here in MN!!!  Yeah!!!

That means little bodies are heating up and taking to the water.  At our house my kids are huge fans of anything sweet that comes from the freezer.

This is a rendition of a recipe I saw on-line and tweaked a bit.

None of the ingredients in this are hard to find or really all that great for us…(read: no paleo here;)), however it is a treat and as treats go, they are not usually broccoli…am I right?!

Ingredients:

  • One box of Raspberry Jell-O (you could really use any flavor, strawberry would also be really tasty)…8 serving size.
  • Lemonade mix, enough for 8 servings, more or less depending on your tartness preference.
  • Water
  • Ice
  • Sugar (Optional)
  • Dixie cups
  • Plastic spoons or Popsicle sticks

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Boil 4 cups of water and stir in Jell-O, lemonade and any sugar if you like to sweeten your mixture.
Add ice cubes to a glass measuring cup, add water to equal 2 ½ cups total, then add to Jell-O Mixture.
Pour into paper cups; I put mine into a muffin tin to keep it steady for the little helpers I had, also to catch the drips.  I also used a funnel to help keep things neat. Put in freezer for 2 hours.

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After 2 hours they should only be partially set. This is when we added plastic spoons, I did this so little hands could hold onto then better and avoid a stick, put back into the freezer for another hour or two. This made about 14-16 pops with the Dixie cups approximately 3/4 full.

ENJOY!!!!

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Brandy Pecan Pie

Ahh February 14th….the day of love, chocolate, roses, jewelery….is it an important holiday?  One that should have men doting on women, reminding the woman in their life just how much they love them, or is it really a marketing ploy to sell those million rose buds and pounds of chocolate??

Well, regardless of your persuasion on the holiday, all of us over here are fans of sweet treats, and days that inspire small kindnesses, so we have a no expectations February 14th just cute little cards written to teachers and friends and yummy food.

This recipe is for a pecan pie that is Jon’s favorite, it is what he has for a birthday “cake” every year, it is my adaptation of a recipe I found in a cookbook and is from Bravo, Chef!

You will need:

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Brandy Pecan Pie

 1- 9 inch pie crust                                    

  1/2 dark corn syrup       

  3 eggs                                                           

  1 Cup white sugar     

1 tsp vanilla                                               

 1/4 C. Brandy (you will have some left in the bottle; another reason Jon loves this pie)                                                                                              

1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream (more if you want to whip some up to go on top of the pie)

   2 TBS melted butter                                 

  1 1/4 C chopped pecans           

Preheat oven to 375.

Place your pie crust in your pan (or find a willing helper):

064I gave her a fork and let her make a fancy edge!

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One more because I love her eyes!

Ok back to pie:

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Mix eggs, sugar, melted butter, corn syrup, and heavy cream in a bowl.

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Should look like this.

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Stir in pecans, brandy and vanilla, then pour into your pie crust.

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Bake for 40-50 minutes or until set, it should not wiggle much.

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Viola!!  now you can eat this all by itself, ala mode, or with some freshly whipped cream.

Happy Valentines day!!!!!

Pantry Organization

Quite possible the biggest road block we hit in the day is the dreaded “what’s for dinner” question. Not so much that the kids are asking, but neither Jon nor I have made any plans for this meal. As a family we all sit down to this meal 90% of the time, it is not generally so much what the food will be but the experience, that being said, no one enjoys waffles or cereal or an afterthought meal thrown together EVERY night. So what we need is a plan, an organized plan that can smoothly get us through this meal.
Problems that we need to address: ‘The Rut” we need to expand beyond the same old recipes that we have as tried and true stand bys, “The Time” unfortunately with a family of 6 we often do not have a large amount of time to prepare a meal with loads of steps, and hoards of dishes in the aftermath, and lastly “The stash” Jon and I are known offenders of grabbing a few things from the store on most days of the week, this has provided us with a nice supply of staples that we can usually creatively come up with something that will pacify everyone hunger for dinner, but can also lead to waste in excess and no again no firm plan.
Jon is gone for 2 full weeks this month, which gave me the push I needed to detour all 3 of the above problems. I planned out 5 days worth of meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, including new recipes for dinner and shopped for all of the weeks needs, ( minus a few items that I will buy fresh the day of for a certain recipe). I brought the entire horde of groceries home and went to put them away in our pantry….

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Whoa!! Where in the world was I going to put all these groceries??? What in the world was I thinking, whose stuff is this in the hallway pantry?? The cart was obviously in front of the horse on this plan….

First Problem “the Stash” aka the pantry was no in desperate need of being solved….I set to work immediately.

It took me 3 days, and 2 trips to target since they ran out of the certain bin that I needed, but I successfully made our pantry into an organized, planned evening meal, stash closet in an OCD fashion that I did not even know I was capable of executing.

Our pantry is in a hallway making it very difficult to get a good straight on shot without crawling into the wall, but I think you get a good idea of what is going on with the Stash:

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Top Shelf: Food dehydrator, bread maker, small hand mixer and small crock pot, these are appliances that we do not use on a regular basis.

Lower 2 Shelves: Each of these has 3 green plastic bins, each bin has a designated food, from left to Right: First Shelf: Soups/broths, sauces/dressing, pastas, Second Shelf: baking mixes/cake mixes, canned fruits and veggies (we don’t buy many of these, most of the time we buy fresh), rice.

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Bottom Space: Kitchen aid mixer, large Crockpot and water bottle hoard. We use these appliances at least once a week, and the kids can grab and fill a water bottle anytime. With all our activities I need these to be easily accessible for them.

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The dinner plan is in full effect with these clear bins, I can fit 6 across the top of my second from the top shelf. I have clips on the front of everyone. This is where I clip a dinner recipe and then I put all the dry ingredients needed for the recipe in the bin. Simple I just grab a bin and there are the ingredients and recipe I can either use fresh ingredients I have or pop to the store the day before or morning of and dinner is set.

Here is another bonus to this project, I realized that some of the food on our shelves had expired, that is waste that I am going to try and avoid with proper planning. There is an over flowering box of items ready for the spring garage sale, and a small grocery bag of items to donate.

blog 011 copy              I guess marshmallows do expire??!!  Who knew!

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All for sale!!

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Rainbow Birthday Party

Our oldest daughter just turned 7, this is always a very busy time for us, all the kids schools are having music programs, and family picnics, it is a week before the girls dance recital and soccer practice is 2 nights a week with games in Saturday mornings.

I just did not have it in me this year to have a big birthday party at our house like we typically do.  So we decided to have her party at a local nature canter and a tour of the on site cave would be included.  We are all major nature aficianados as well as avid learners so this sounded perfect.

Right on cue a Parents magazine showed up in our mailbox, I am not sure why we get this, no complaints, jsut one of the wonderfully curious thigs.  So she deicdes this is the cake for her:

So also in this article they have little water bottles with skittles candy sorted by colored and layered as treats for the friends that come to the party.  This seems so easy, I delegate the Cake to Jon becuase he is really the domestic god of our lives and I take on the “easy” skittles job.

14!!! Bags of skittles later I had finally filled 20 tiny bottles with a rainbow of sugary goodness, maybe the cake was the easier job…or maybe it is the worker.

We set teh table with multiple colors of paperplates, cups, napkins and forks after we got back from the cave tour so I do nto have a picture of teh complete table but we used the bottles as a centerpiece and the cake was a huge success!

Everyone got to take one home, these were not the easy project I tougth they would be, but all the kids were thrilled to get them!

Jon’s cake….uuuuummmmazing!!!

Happy 7th Birthday Miss Raiven!!!

Signed up for a local garden plot

We have always has in our backyard a garden, clearly laid out, with a nice border or fence of some sort, which has produced numerous healthy and great tasting fruits and veggies for our family.  I really enjoy going out at lunch time and picking fresh tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and sometimes peas in June for my salad.  I love watching the kids run out and pick fresh strawberries out of the patch staining their lips and fingers red.

We have a lot that is 1/2 an acre, on this sits our house so the amount on actual space to play is much less, with 4 kids and a small horse of a dog, we are trying a new gardening tactic this year.  This will open up some of the precious green play space for the kids, but still allow us to grow a garden.

I am keeping the strawberry patch and will have some tomatoes in containers on the deck these are the items I can’t have farther than this 1/2 an acre away.

Our city has 2 large spots that they till up and section off into 30 X 30 garden plots.  Each gets a number and is $30.  on May 1st we are allowed to some and plant in our spot.  We will have to carry in all the water that our plants will need.  I think the kids are going to love this, Solomon really likes to garden, he told me once, “gardening is more fun than playing”.   The plot is located just down the hill from our house it will take about 5 minutes to get  there and it is right off the bike path that connects to the kids school and fields where they practice soccer. 

We now have to decide what plants we are going to grow, and how we want to organize our 30 X 30 plot.  I  plan to post a weekly picture of the plot so everyone can see how quickly (hopefully;)) our plants grow! Stay tuned!!!

A new friend in the oraganic celery

Hubby is up in the kitchen chopping and slaving away making soup for dinner.  I hear him say “Hay Tanna look what I found in the celery.”

I hear footsteps, it is quiet for a minute, “Momma come up here quick!”  I then here Tanna’s feet pounding down the stairs, guess she is going to find me first.  “Momma, we found a caterpillar in the celery!!!!”  I hear the the big kids bus roll up outside before I can comment, so I encourage her to share what she found today with the kids as they come in….”WE FOUND This IN THE CELERY” with hand gestures that are sure to win her an Oscar at some later date.

They look in her little plastic bowl…”oh cool”.

Two minutes later Tanna says a little less emphatically “it’s dead.”  

Well at least it lived a pesticide free life and boy was the end exciting.

Can’t wait for the table talk tonight over soup!

A Heart-y Breakfast

It is the day…the one some people can’t wait to spend with the person they love, others can’t stand to be  alone and all the latter people are celebrating and the day that some anticipate with anxiety and hope.  There are so many expectations what sould be given on this day that I think the sincerity of simple love can be lost to the material expectations…but this is no soap box…today. 

At our house there are no built up expectations or shiny bling, it is similar to most other days, with perhaps a little more focus on love and family.

So what better way to start the day than with homemade heart waffles, topped with fresh crushed sweet strawberries,  and whipped cream spiked with just a touch of almond extract… and nothing says momma and poppa love you more than spikes of bacon on the top, like sprinkles only much tastier.

My mom has had this waffle iron since I was a kid and it was so fun to use it this morning when heart shaped waffles actually made sense. I am sure she got it at Dayton’s back in the day but I see Target has a similar one.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!