"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Zucchini and Blueberries

Unfortunately we don't have blueberries OR zucchini in our garden, but my mom gave me a huge box of zucchini, and the blueberries were on sale at the grocery store. I think we may have one little zucchini plant that may have survived the wind and hail, but it also might be something else.... I guess we'll see what grows.

Anyway, today I dried a bunch of zucchini into "chips". It was really easy, and they are delicious. Averie loves them. I just sliced them really thin, blanched them for just a second, put them on the drying racks, and put on a little salt and garlic. They taste a lot like potato chips. The trick is to get them REALLY dry. (They are hard to chew if they are still leathery.) I love them! I was planning on using them for dry soup mixes to store, but I don't think they will last that long. I have one more batch to make tomorrow. It took them about 10 hours to dry.

In another attempt to whittle down the pile of zucchini, I made some blueberry zucchini bread. It is REALLY good. Though I recommend waiting until it is completely cooled before cutting. The first one fell apart a little bit. Here is the recipe I used:
  • INGREDIENTS:
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
Mix/beat together first 4 ingredients. Fold in zucchini, then blend in the next 5 ingredients. Gently fold in blueberries.

Pout into 2 well-greased bread pans. (I used larger ones, and just filled them about half full.)

Bake at 350 degrees for about 75 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.
(I'm at a high altitude and this was perfect, but adjust accordingly.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Announcement...

So... if you have seen me lately it's becoming PaInFuLlY obvious, BUT if you haven't.... We're expecting another baby in January! (We seem to be fairly poor at planning the timing of these things. Oh well. Ellorie will have a birthday buddy.)


It feels a bit informal to announce it over my blog, so my apologies to family members I should have just picked up the phone and called. It's been a busy summer. And I'm tired. I've been feeling fine though, and all seems to be well. We will find out in a month or so if it's a boy or a girl. Mason is pulling hard for a brother, as you can imagine. He said, "It just wouldn't be FAIR to have another girl!" He's all about fair these days. We will of course be thrilled with either a boy or a girl. Ellorie gives me strange looks when I talk about the baby. I'm not sure if she really believes us, or thinks it's some grand joke. Averie is sure we're joking. I guess they'll figure it out eventually.

So stay tuned for further updates...

Another Quick/Fun Weekend Trip

We headed to Utah to visit this weekend. Another quick trip, but fun-filled, and well worth the drive. Rocket accompanied us as well, as he is still recovering from being neutered. We drove to my mom's house Thursday night, and pretty much just went to bed. Friday morning we suited up and headed to Grandma Sherma's condo at Bear Lake. It was beautiful there. Of course I didn't get any pictures of the lake. Oh well. We had a great time swimming. The pool had just the right combination of shallow/not-too-deep water. All three of the kids had a blast and probably would have stayed in the water all day if we would have let them. Averie spend the better part of an hour doing this:
video
It's a good thing she has a patient daddy.
After swimming we had a little BBQ lunch at the condo, and then headed back to Logan.

Friday night (Pioneer Day), Grandma Sherma gave Mom and I tickets to a very cool production at the local Opera house. No pictures, but it was very memorable. The Utah Opera Company (I think) performed old American and patriotic songs with a full Symphony Orchestra. For the opening number all the singers came down the aisles and stood around the audience as the audience stood and sang together the national anthem. W-O-W! It was so incredibly moving. Both my mother and I were brought to tears. To stand in this amazingly beautiful opera house surrounded by some of the world's best singers belting out the Star Spangled Banner. Words can't describe the emotion. I am so very grateful for this country and the freedoms we enjoy. It's refreshing to be in the company of other Americans who feel the same way. They also honored all the armed forces veterans. There were so many of them there! It was a perfect celebration of our country and pioneer heritage. Thank you mom and Grandma!


Saturday morning Grandma Gina made us a fantastic crepe breakfast with fresh berries and lemon sauce. Mmmmmmmm.
Saturday afternoon Papa wanted to take the kids fishing at a local trout/llama farm. It was a really fun place. Ellorie caught the first fish, and then she was totally grossed out/frightened by the gigantic fish. This is the same girl that ten minutes later was catching dragon flies with her hands and chasing water snakes. Go figure. Mason was a lot more into the fishing thing. He caught three rainbow trout, one HUGE coppery colored one. The cleaned weight of the catch was seven pounds! They enjoyed a fantastic fish fry for lunch.
Mason reeling in the big one:
video


On the way home from fishing we stopped at the Gossner cheese factory. It was a great one! I went a little cheese crazy:
Fresh squeaky cheese curds, Provolone, Baby Swiss, Hard Parmesan, and Swiss and Onion Cheese spread. Mmmm. (Thanks Ken!) I love cheese. It's probably a good thing we don't live any closer to the place.

Saturday evening we also had a chance to play games for a little while. I wish we could do that more often. We love playing games. Such a fun weekend! Thanks for letting us come and play. We had a great time!!

Averie serenaded us for most of the drive home. Here are a few of her favorite numbers:
video

video

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Tooth Fairy Strikes Again! (better late than never...)

Mason's precariously loose front tooth FINALLY bid his mouth adieu. We are all very glad. The tooth fairy must have been really busy last night, because she didn't find the tooth until Mason was eating his breakfast. Sneaky little lady. He didn't seem to mind too much.(He lost it shortly after dinner, as you can tell by the remnants of the meal still stuck to his face.)


Also yesterday, poor Rocket became a little less manly. Yup, it was time for the big "snip, snip". He's a trooper. He slept in the laundry room last night and was very cute and mopey. He kept sticking his head under the gate like this until we lowered it, but it was very cute. He is feeling much better today.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Business Trip Vacation


Brandon had a short-notice business trip to the beautiful Sun Valley this Monday and Tuesday. We all got to tag along and stay in the hotel. Brandon had to work the whole time, but we got a mini vacation. The kids thought the pool in the hotel was the greatest, and also loved watching movies and building forts in the hotel room.

We explored the beautiful towns of Hailey and Ketchum. I was astounded at the traffic. There were so many people in these two tiny towns! Where do they all live? I think many of them were tourists, but most people seemed to be local. We didn't catch any glimpses of Demi, Bruce, or Ashton, but there were lots of ladies that looked very "Demi-ish" Coincidence? Brandon had lunch the first day in Mr. Willis' Diner. It seems to be a very star-struck area.

In Hailey we found a couple of very cool parks (in which we spent a LOT of time), a fantastic smoothie shop that had fresh huckleberry lemonade (YUM!), and several fancy-pants toy stores. Our hotel was in Hailey and we spent much of our time playing there.

We happened to hit an artists market in Ketchum with all kinds of artisans, home made goodies and booths. And we also enjoyed visiting some of the many galleries there. The extremely kind curators were very patient with my small herd of children. We had lunch at this really great Pizza joint. If you're ever in town it's called "Wise Guy Pizza Pie". Really amazing pizza. I wish I would have taken a picture of mine. It had sauce, lots of garlic, spinach, mushrooms, and feta cheese. Mmmm. The kids also loved all the sidewalk art sculptures. It's a fun little town.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rainbow Garden Medley

It is so nice to eat meals out of the garden now. I love it! Tonight we had beets, rainbow Swiss chard, and creamed potatoes and peas. The kids gobbled it all up. Well, mostly.

Swiss chard is much like spinach or beet greens, but with a slightly milder taste and a meatier texture. I sort of forgot about it mixed in the row with my lettuce, but I think I'll be eating a lot more of it now. It's SOOOO yummy with a little butter and salt. (And isn't it pretty?)
These are our cute red and purple baby potatoes. The purples are just a tiny bit sweet and have a slightly smoother texture. Mason and Ellorie shelled about a quart of peas completely on their own. Nice!

Tooth Fairy

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We Hate Mosquitoes


And yes, I realize that "hate" is a strong word. This is what Mason looked like the morning after our camping trip due to an allergic reaction to all the mosquito bites. He looked much worse the night before, but I couldn't bring myself to get a picture of the poor guy. Not cool. He is, of course, 100% recovered now. I just had to point out how much we dislike the little insects. I'm glad we don't have them around our house!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Camping and Hiking



We had a spur-of-the-moment camping and hiking trip this weekend just over the Wyoming border. We went with Brandon's sister, Melissa and her family. Four adults, seven children, and one pup in the crew. It was so beautiful there:
We camped at a little mountain campground with bathrooms, water, lots of trees, and lots of mosquitoes. It was very quiet and peaceful. Yes, even with seven children. We had lots of yummy food and fun.


S'mores anyone?
We spent about the entire day Friday hiking up the mountain. It was almost 6 miles total. The kids were troopers! Even Averie and baby Morgan made the journey. (Though they were carried most of the way.) Rocket was so tired that he kept falling asleep when stopping for short breaks on the way down. Poor pup. Whew!
Here's a little video of a valley we hiked through:
video

There were several beautiful waterfalls on the way up the mountain. The kids all got their feet wet of course. It was amazingly beautiful.

It was a fun, busy, dirty, buggy, beautiful weekend. I'm really glad to be home though, and I'm especially glad for heated running water and flushing toilets.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cherries Galore!


I had the opportunity to acquire 30 pounds of fresh picked Bing cherries for a very good price. I picked them up Tuesday, and then suddenly found myself with 30 pounds of cherries. Duh. Now what to do with them? I hadn't realized how MANY cherries are involved in 30 pounds. Serious commitment here.


I started out by filling up the dehydrator with cherry halves. That didn't really make a dent. Cherries don't last too long on the counter, so I had to get all the rest finished today. I was planning on bottling them whole, pits and all. Then it occurred to me that no one in our family will likely eat bottled cherries. What a watse. So I got the grand idea to make jam and syrup.

I found some great recipes online and dug right in. Thirteen hours later...
Click HERE for the recipe I used for the syrup. The only change was that I blended the cherries in the blender before steaming and straining them. I used all the pulp to make the fruit leather. Both the syrup and the leather turned out great! 16 cups of cherries made 12 pints of syrup and 21 fruit rolls.

I put together a couple of recipes for the jam. This is what I ended up using. It is SOOOOO delicious. I would have made more of them into jam, but I ran out of pectin. Here is my recipe:

BING CHERRY JAM

10 cups washed, stemmed and pitted cherries. (Halved or chopped)
1 cup lemon juice
1 TB almond extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 packages dry pectin
9 cups sugar

Place all ingredients but sugar into a large stockpot. Bring the mixture to a boil that cannot be stirred down. Immediately add the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue boiling for 2 minutes. Skim mixture. Pour hot into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust caps. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. Yields about 5 to 6 pints.

And the carnage:

By the way, I could not find a cherry pitter anywhere, so I pitted those babies BY HAND the old-fashioned way. My hands may never recover. Apparently cherries stain.

I think I might be crazy. I don't know what possesses me to take on projects like this. I admire those fabulous ladies that do this kind of stuff all the time. I'm glad the cherries are finally finished! It's a good feeling to see those pretty bottles of jam and syrup on my shelf. And they taste pretty great too...

Swimming Lessons

We started swimming lessons this week. Every morning for two weeks.

Ellorie completely freaked out the last two times we went swimming as a family. She refused to do anything but sit on the step and hold on to the pole. So, I thought we were going to have to pull her out of lessons. Nope. She just jumped right in like it was no big thing. She has had no problems whatsoever, and actually loves it. Mason is doing great too.

They love playing in the water!

Poor Averie isn't big enough yet, but she enjoys watching with me from the observation deck...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The 4th Festivities

We had a very eventful and fun-filled fourth of July! Melissa & Jason and fam came for the weekend to play. Here are our top 12:

1. Kids slept in the tent in the backyard. Actually slept. The whole night. Amazing.

2. We all stayed up way too late Friday and Saturday, playing, talking, fireworking...

3. Saturday morning parade. Longest parade ever. The kids ate so much candy!
(Especially Averie.)

4. Lunch Buffet at Craigo's. Mmmmm.

5. Post-parade nap time. Ahhhhh.

6. Slip and Slide.


7. Rock Band, of course.

8. Backyard BBQ in a makeshift fire pit. Good job men!

9. Playing with cousins! Make believe, video games, swinging on the swing set, playing with Rocket, loving baby Morgan, enjoying the beautiful weather and lack of mosquitoes!

10. The giant Melaleuca firework show in Idaho Falls.
video

11. Not losing any of our children at the giant Melaleuca firework show. (Well, okay, we lost James for a few minutes, but don't worry, we found him.) There were SOOOO many people there!

12. Lighting sparklers and budget fireworks in the street until midnight. (Sorry dear neighbors.) Woo Hoo!


Happy Independence Day!!