Pull up a chair, get a cup of tea, and enjoy reading the recipes and tidbits of my journey through Life.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Been Too Long

What a month!  It has been 21 days since I posted; totally wrong of me.  Our daughter has been sick off and on for most of the month and now has asthma. We have been refinancing our home, and now our only vehicle is dead to the world.  But enough about the bad!  :) 

I have been busy in the kitchen as well.  I made a batch of yogurt in the crockpot that turned out "oky" (nice consistency when refrigerated, but kinda bland).  It will work fine for our family since it gets cooked with or flavored and then frozen, but not my in-laws who eat the majority of theirs plain.  They have a yogurt maker they bought for $40 that makes AWESOME yogurt.  I need to tinker and tweak my recipe and see what I can do to make it more flavorful.  The current recipe is:

Crockpot Yogurt
1/2 gallon whole milk
1/2 cup yogurt without stabilzer (I used Axelrod brand)

Pour the milk into the crockpot and turn on Low for 2.5 hours and then turn off and let sit for 3 hours.  Ladle a cup of milk into a bowl and mix in the 1/2 cup yogurt.  Pour back into the crockpot and mix well.  Wrap crockpot in a thick blanket, making sure the crockpot is turned off and unplugged.  Let sit for 8 to 12 hours.  Refreigerate at least one hour before serving.

NOTE: After refrigerating a day the flavor was more developed.

I have also made a new recipe for Spaghetti Sauce and will can it tomorrow.  I got it from the same website as my old recipe (www.thefamilyhomestead.com).  I like the flavor and texture of this one better...plus being able to water-bath can it makes my life SO much easier.  Sometime this week I plan to make ginger syrup so we can make our own gingerale and ginger tea for when we're ill, as well as dehydrating mangoes for my Baba. 

Tonight I actually made out a menu plan for the week starting tomorrow that includes Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.  Hopefully this will be something I can remember/make-myself-do.  I also need to take an inventory of what is in the freezers (yes, plural) and pantry.  I think I need to make a very detailed To-Do list for this week; as you know I cannot function without a list of some kind. 

Then this coming weekend, weather permitting, we plan to cut down nine or so thinnish trees in our backyard, some of which are damaging out gutter system.  At least we'll get firewood out of it.  Then I can measure the backyard and graph how I want to grow the garden next year.  I am determined to grow some veggies next year, as well as small fruits.  So far my list of tenative crops is: tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, strawberries, blackberries, and maybe apples if I can find a place where I can grow a male and a female tree close together.  The blackberries will not produce until the second year, but then I will be able to make blackberry jam and freeze them and make cobbler in the dead of winter.  Kinda over-achieving for my first year, but they're all veggies I end up buying at the farmer's market.  We will just have to wait and see how things go.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

New Date Challenge

We never really take the time for "date night", hell or "date-anything" for that matter.  Well, that is going to change!  As of now the Hubby and I will have at least ONE date a month (and the challenge?) but they have to be as close to FREE as possible.  This will get us out of the rut of Dinner-and-a-Movie.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, expecially since the last movie we saw in a theater was Harry Potter 7 Part 2.  (Sad, I know.)

I stumbled upon this idea while playing (again) on Pinterest.  I followed a Pin to a website that listed 40 Free Dates and my mind just kept going from there. I cannot remember the website and I didn't pin it because I copied down all the dates I liked.  But I know it was an article from Shape Magazine.  I also stumbled upon a great site/blog at LoveActually-Blog.blogspot.com.  I am copying down the ideas I like and am going to make a binder of Date Ideas.  This way we can easily pick out things to do each month.  Some of the ideas I will keep as a surprise for the Hubby, but most will be decided together.

Here are some of the ideas I have come up with/ found:
  • Summer Concerts
  • Tour a Local Brewery
  • Have a Game Night (boardgames/cards, etc)
  • Go Stargazing
  • Have a Movie Night (at-home)
  • Go to the Beach/Lake
  • Take a Hike
  • Go to a Playground
  • Free Zoo Days
  • Go Sledding
  • Photoshoot
  • Enjoy a Scenic Drive
  • Check out Local Yard Sales
  • Tour a Winery
  • Cloud Watching
  • Couples' Game Night
  • At-Home Couple's Massage (massaging each other)
  • Visit a Farm
  • Learn Something New Together
  • Sandcastle Competition
  • Leap in Leaves
  • Rock Skipping
  • Water Balloon Fight
  • Have a Picnic
  • Bake a Sweet Treat Together
  • Create a Scavenger Hunt
  • Read to Each Other
  • Book-of-the-Month Together
  • Watch Sunrise, Then Make Breakfast Together
  • Planetarium
  • Museum Exhibit
  • Ride Go-carts
  • Go to a Jazz Club
  • Visit a Nursing Home/Pediatric Ward and Hand out Flowers
  • Poetry Reading
  • Book Signing of Shared Favorite Author
  • Take a Walk
  • Try a New Cuisine
  • Fondue for Two
  • Camping (indoors or out)
So as you can tell, we're set for a few YEARS if we stick to one a month, though I think it will be more than that.  Right now I have two possibilities for the rest of September and one in October...all art/museum exhibits.  Loving the whole FREE part, makes budgeting it in so easy *cheesy grin*

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bucket Lists

I have always heard of bucket lists, but never thought much about them.  In case you do not know what they are, they are lists of things to do or accomplish before you "kick the bucket"; hence, a Bucket List.  There was even a movie about them starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. 

Today I was playing on Pinterest [ there is no other way to describe what a person does on Pinterest other than playing :) ] and ran across a Fall Bucket List.  Instead of a list to do before you die, it is a list to accomplish before Winter hits.  I LOVE this idea!  And I now plan to make one each season and will change the items depending on how much we enjoy each event.  Most lists I found were ten or twelve items long, but since my lucky number is thirteen I chose thirteen items for my list.

Fall Bucket List 2012
1. Go to a pumpkin patch
2. Carve pumpkins
3. Go to a Corn Maze
4. Make Pumpkin bread together
5. Go on a Fall picnic
6. Nature walk/scavenger hunt (with camera)
7. Go apple picking
8. Hayride and apple cider
9. Make a Thankful Craft
10. Celebrate Oktoberfest
11. Make Leaf Art
12. Tram Ride in Cabin John Park
13. Warm up by fire pit and make S'mores

Trick-or-treating was listed on almost every list, but that is a given in our house, so it does not need to be listed on our Bucket List.  I think I will always have #6 on each seaon's Bucket List so my daughter can learn the differences in the world around her from season to season.  I want her to have a love of nature and hopefully want to keep Mother Nature as safe as possible.  But this post isn't about me spouting off about ecology.  :-)  When I come up with the scavenger hunt list I will post it for everyone to use if they wish.

The good thing about my List is I can combine a few at a time so we are not booked every weekend with something.  I do not want this to turn into a chore instead of something fun and enjoyable. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Family Scrapbook

I have been slowly working on a scrapbook on our family traditions, and now have an idea for another family scrapbook: Family Journal.  I have seen books for sale that have pages of journal prompt for your Mom, Grandmother, Dad, etc to answer, but they never have enough room to write, not to mention nice ones are expensive!  So I wondered if there were sites online that listed different jounraling prompts...and lo-and-behold there are. I spent a day or two copying and pasting into a document on my Kindle Fire the different questions I liked.  Some of them were too old for me (not old enough to have a reaction to the first man on the moon or Elvis dying).  I came up with the following list (not in chronological order):

What did your father do for an occupation?
Where were you on September 11, 2001? How did the events of that day impact your life?
What was a typical Sunday like when you were growing up?
What did your family do for vacations when you were growing up?
What is your favorite birthday memory?
How was Christmas celebrated when you were growing up?
What was your favorite subject in school?
Did you belong to any clubs in high school?
Where did you go to college? What years?
What was your first job?
Is there a Christmas or birthday present that really sticks out in your mind?
Who were you named for?
What was your favorite age or time period in your life?
What was the hardest thing you ever had to do?
What fads have you seen come and go? Did you participate?
Is there something you wished you had done, but didn't?
Have you ever experienced a natural disaster? How were you affected?
What person affected your life the most?
When and where were you married? Did you have a honeymoon?
How many aunts, unless and cousins do you have? Were they a part of your childhood years?
Was there a family member you were especially close to?
What is your proudest accomplishment?
How did you meet your spouse?
What places have you seen in the world?
Is there anywhere you would still like to visit?
Did you know your grandparents?
Did you have a best friend?
Did you have pets?
When did you learn to drive and what kind of car did you drive?
When did you get your first TV? What shows did you watch?
What was your favorite candy? Favorite meal?
Did you go to the movie theater? The drive-in? What types of movies did you like?
What was the first movie you saw? Is there a movie you would watch over and over again?
Was there a job or career you wanted at one time then didn't pursue?
Do you remember any special stories you grandparents told you?
Did you attend church regularly? What faith?
Were your parents very social? Did they dress up everyday or to entertain?
Did your mother and father have favorite sayings?
What did the home you grew up in look like?
What was the first home you purchased like?
Did you like growing up in a small town? Did you dream of moving away or did you want to be there forever?
Did your family eat in the kitchen or dining room? What did the table settings look like?
Was there much music in your home? If so, what kind do you remember?
Did you have a garden? Flower or vegetable?
Do you remember your childhood home having a particular scent?
Did you have a nickname? Do you have any nicknames now?
Did you collect anything as a child? Do you now?
Did you have chores as a child?
How did you and your siblings entertain yourselves as children?
Did you go to camp? What was it like?
What was your neighborhood like when you were a child?
Did you eat lunch at school? If so, what was it typically?
What did you do in the summer when there was no school?
What did you do the day you turned 21? 40?
What was the fanciest New Year's Eve party you ever attended?
What was your favorite song in high school?
Did you go to your high school prom or other dances?
What were the clothing trends/fashions when you were in high school? Did you wear them?
Did you do well in school? Did you ever skip school?
Where did you go to college? How important was it for you to go to college?
Where did you live while in college?
Were you in clubs or a fraternity/sorority in college?
What degree did you get in college? Did you use what you learned in the rest of your career?
Did you change significantly while you were in college?
Did you ever see a favorite performer in concert or at a show?
Did you have a favorite radio show? How did your family listen to radio shows?
What do you like to read? Do you have a favorite novel or author?
What type of art do you enjoy? Have you purchased? Have you created?
Who was your first love? Did you have any crushes on celebrities?
Do you have any bad habits?
What is your favorite season? What about it do you love?
Do you like time alone, or do you need to be with people?
Which President did you admire most in your lifetime?
Did you ever wish to live in a different time or era?
What have been some of the biggest changes in your lifetime?
How did you look as a child? As a young adult? Did you like your appearance?
Was there something you always wanted to change?
Did you ever have an accident?
Do you think you grew to be like your parents? In personality? In appearance?
Who have you lost in your life that you miss the most?
What advice would you pass on to grandchild?
What was your mother like?
What was your father like?
What was your childhood neighborhood/town like?
At what type of stores did your parents shop in your childhood?
What kind of games did you play growing up?
What was your favorite toy and why?
What was your favorite thing to do for fun (movies, beach, etc.)?
Describe a typical family dinner. Did you all eat together as a family? Who did the cooking? What were your favorite foods?
How were holidays (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) celebrated in your family? Did your family have special traditions?
How is the world today different from what it was like when you were a child?
Who was the oldest relative you remember as a child? What do you remember about them?
What do you know about your family surname?
Is there a naming tradition in your family, such as always giving the firstborn son the name of his paternal grandfather?
Have any recipes been passed down to you from family members?
Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family?
Are there any special heirlooms, photos, bibles or other memorabilia that have been passed down in your family?
What was it like when you proposed (or were proposed to)? Where and when did it happen? How did you feel?
Where and when did you get married?
What memory stands out the most from your wedding day?
How would you describe your spouse? What do (did) you admire most about them?
What do you believe is the key to a successful marriage?
How did you find out your were going to be a parent for the first time?
Why did you choose your children's names?
What was your proudest moment as a parent?
What did your family enjoy doing together?
What was your profession and how did you choose it?
If you could have had any other profession what would it have been? Why wasn't it your first choice?
Of all the things you learned from your parents, which do you feel was the most valuable?
When we found out we were pregnant with you, we were…
(As the mother) When I was pregnant with you I craved (or ate all the time)…
I knew I was in labor when…
The hospital trip was…
Why we named you…because…
Who came to see you at the hospital…
On the day you were born…
The day we took you home…
We started our own traditions of…

I informed the Hubby that he was going to be writing his responses to these questions as well.  I want our daughter to have both our experiences to read and enjoy as she gets older...before we forget some of them.  Since he would be doing this project with me, I drug him to Michaels today to look for scrapbook embellishments.  And yes, he honestly looked with me and helped make decisions.  We chose stickers for 9/11, Our Proposal, Our Wedding, and Our Daughter's Birth.

I plan to include photos that corollate to the events and questions.  I have also been doing Pintrest searches for scrapbooking layouts and ideas.  I have some ideas for using maps for one or two answers and my darling mother-dear is going to send me a map of my hometown to use.  I have asked on Freecycle for one of Maryland so hopefully I won't have to buy one.  I am excited to go through all the memorabilia that I have kept over the years to see what I can use in the scrapbook.  I am quite the packrat when it comes to anything sentimental.  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

In With the New!

My daughter started Kindergarten this past Monday and since then life has been a whirlwind!  Monday at the bus stop we met another mom who just happened to be PTA VP.  She asked if I was a stay-at-home mom and I told her I was.  Mrs. T is her name and she asked if I could help out Tuesday.  I said sure.  I spent that day helping set up the display cabinets for the upcoming Fall Fundraiser.  Make a long story short...I am now the PTA Fundraising Committee Chairperson.  LOL  Not exactly sure how I got the job, but here I am.  Fundraiser kicked off Friday and if my daughter sells 250 items (that are about $10 each) she wins either a iPad or 35" flatscreen TV.  There are other prizes for selling less items that are awesome too.  And selling 32 items gets her a Hummer Limo ride to McDonalds.  I don't normally let her eat that shit, but I will make an exception this time.  If you want to help her reach 250 items, let me know and I will send you the info so you can order online (yeah, they have online ordering for out-of-towners...isn't technology great?)

We are chicken sitting for Maman and Baba while they are on a trip over the Labor Day weekend.  Very odd being here without them. Day time isn't so bad, but dinner time and bed time are pretty weird.  Anyway, so we're watching the chickens.  They had broken out of their run when we got here Friday, so the Hubby had to fix that before we could put them in for the night. 

Today was relaxing, but I finally got to use my new food dehydrator!!!  It arrived on Tuesday but I haven't had a chance to even open it with all the PTA stuff going on.  [ It is an early B-day gift...over 2 months early :-) ] I found Red Delicious apples for $0.98 a pound and Granny Smith apples for $1.25 a pound.  So I bought a few Granny's and a good amount of Red Delicious.  Today I was able to dry some of them.  Three Red Delicious were enough to fill all 5 trays of the dehydrator. 

They were sliced 1/4-inch thick and took only three hours to dry.  I ended up filling two quart bags just from three apples.

Now I am drying the Granny Smith apples and they should be done in half an hour.  Tomorrow I plan to finish drying the Red Delicious apples.  I hope to get some peaches before the season ends because the darling daughter loves peaches.  I wonder how dried pumpkin tastes.....