Sunday, July 12, 2009

My new venture

Wow! Time flies! I got so busy with all the end of the school year stuff, my cousin's wedding and the travel that went with it, a surgery for me, and keeping the kids busy this summer, I just haven't had time to blog. I am quite embarrassed when I look at the date of my last post. I will get better, I will get better, I will.....

So, I am thinking of starting my own catering business. I love love love cooking and they always say you should do what you love. I will start slow, providing meals a couple of days a week that people can pick up and take home and eat. I will also do party and event catering as my schedule permits. My hope is that I can start slow, see how it goes, and if people enjoy what I make, maybe expand into a full time business within a couple of years. What do you think? I would love to hear feedback! Getting a business started takes some work logistically and I want to make sure people are really interested in picking up ready made meals that they are not cooking!

On Thursday night I made my own freezer strawberry preserves. They are low sugar, and by first taste, quite yummy. I am excited!

I have been asked for the recipe I used, so here it is. Keep in mind, this is a recipe for freezer preserves, so you have to freeze it first to get it to congeal correctly. I am going to do raspberry and blueberry next. This winter, I am going to figure out a way to do cranberry. I can think of nothing better than cranberry preserves with scones and clotted cream and hot tea on a winter morning. When I get the recipe worked for that, I will post it.

Low-Sugar Strawberry Freezer Preserves
makes 6 to 8 half-pints of preserves

4 cups of prepared fruit (I started with roughly 8 cups of sliced fruit and smashed it down with a potato masher until I got it to the consistency I wanted- which about reduces by half.)
1-3/4 cup of 100% juice (I used apple but any variety that works for you should work.)
3/4 cup honey
1 package of "No Sugar Needed" Fruit Pectin

There are several ways to store your preserves. The stores sell plastic containers you can freeze, but with all the BPA stuff out there (a chemical that has shown to cause cancer and is present in most plastics and is activated upon heating or freezing) I choose to go with glass jars. MAke sure you sanitize them first and them make sure your hands and work area is clean. (The package will tell you how to sanitize their product, but I just threw my jars and lids in the dishwasher.)

In a large saucepan, combine juice and pectin until thoroughly combined. Heat to a boil, stirring frequently. Once at a boil, boil for one minute-2 minutes, stirring constantly with a wire whisk.

Remove from heat and add fruit, stirring constantly for one minute, before adding honey. Stir to combine.

Ladle into prepared jars. Place lid on immediately and press around the edge with your fingers. Place ring on and tighten until fingertip tight (it's on securely, but not tightened REALLY tight). Make sure that you use freezer-safe glass jars and leave 1/2-inch headspace on the top to allow for expansion.
In researching this next step, I saw 2 different directions. One was to place the jars in the fridge for 24 hours and then move to the freezer. The other, and the one I foloowed, was to store on the counter for 24 hours and then place in the freezer. It seems that keeping them at room temperature will help it congeal better and also prevent condensation that will later turn into freezer burn.
*Store in the freezer for up to eighteen months. Once defrosted and opened, use within three weeks. Keep refrigerated.

I hope you like it! If you try it, let me know what you think. It was really easy, I did it at night after the kdis were in bed. We've already tried it and the kids loved it! Brannon, my fruit lover, said it was like crushed strawberries on toast!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ok, my babies are officially pervs....

On the heels of Brannon's penis gun, I am beginning to think my children have it out for me. We have an entertainment system in the van. Whenever we are taking any sort of trip that lasts more than 5 minutes, the boys always start in "Moooommmm, can we watch a movie?" Therefore, this truly was one of the first phrases Tierney said (she heard it so much.) As soon as we buckle her in the car seat, she asks too, only it sound like, "Mooommmmyyyyy ca we wach a boobie." Of course the first time we heard it, we about wet our pants laughing so hard. Then we just got used to it (although Wes still snickers.) Then we went to church last week. The nursery was closed so we had the kids with us (God help us.) Tierney does not know how to whisper- AT ALL. So, during the priest's homily, everyone is sitting of course, and she is standing on the pew next to me when she SHOUTS, "MOOOMMMMYYY I want a boobie." I wanted to just slither down to the floor.

On another note, Brannon has his tonsillectomy scheduled for Friday morning. Please keep the little guy in your prayers!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

is THIS normal?

As a mom, mostly with my first born, I found myself worrying about the "weird" things he did. Somehow it made me feel better when I talked to other moms and they assured me that yes, their child finger painted in their poop, and yes their little boys also were obsessed with grabbing their own "playthings." However, this goes far beyond just a quick check to make sure it's still attached......
Last week Ben and I actually went on a date, ya know:a social appointment, engagement, or occasion arranged beforehand with another person; and we got a babysitter. I thought the worst thing I would have to explain was to make sure she knew how Tierney asks for "crocs" but it sounds more like, "I want my ..." (just delete the r and she could be a songwriter for Britney.) Anyway, we are standing upstairs and I am explaining to her about putting Tierney to bed when Brannon starts using his fingers to make the shape of a gun and begins firing at her "pew, pew, pew....) I stopped talking, look over at him and said, "Brannon stop using your hands to shoot Susie*" (*not her real name.) This was my big mistake I know now, I shouldn't have specified a body part. I keep talking to Susie about nightlights and bedtime books, while watching Bran out of the corner of my eye, to make sure he didn't try to sneak a shot. Then, it was like a light bulb exploded in his brain. He broke into a very mischievous grin. Then he grabbed his penis, and through his pants, began to move it up and down (like trying to point a fire hose) and started yelling "pew, pew, pew...." I wanted to die....right there....MOR-TI-FIED...and I am pretty sure that is NOT normal!

Special kudos to my new friend Cynthia for the blog design! You ROCK! If anyone is interested in having her design one for you, email me, and I'll play matchmaker.
My blog will be undergoing a few changes soon, I want to add a recipe section that will post some stuff I've created, or pilfered and want to recommend. Should be fun!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring Seven

To Me, one of the best things about spring, is sitting outside in the afternoon, under the warm sun, and escaping in a good book. (Glass of wine, mojito or margarita are optional.) My problem is, I don't have any books on my wish list. I need some recommendations! I love historical fiction, political thrillers and Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors. So, I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine. I will post my top 7 favorite books, to help guide you in your quest for the perfect hammock companion, and I ask that you post yours (doesn't have to be 7) in the comments section (and you have it easy as you don't have to find picture links!) (Let's leave off books like Harry Potter, which everyone has read and Da Vinci code, which is good but only read it if you can understand that it is COMPLETE FICTION.)

#1: Katherine by Anya Seton

This book is probably my absolute favorite ever. Talk about escape! This is the love story of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, true to the extent we know it. It takes place in 14th century England and when this story ended I cried, I didn't want to let her go. Another book I just read by this same author that's also truly amazing is The Winthrop Women.

#2: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

If you ever have any interaction with children, this is a must read. Jodi is an amazing author. Her character development is astounding. In this book, she takes you into the mind of teenagers, their world and a school shooting. By the end, you don't know if you are on the side of the shooter or the victim.

#3. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

This book is being made into a movie, and I think it's coming out this spring or summer. Read the book first!! As we all know, the movie never does a book justice and I can't imagine the movie will invoke the same feelings the book does. If you have a sister, read this book. If you don't, read it anyway!!

#4. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

This is historical creepy fiction. This book will keep you up all night, one because you can't put it down and two because you will be a little to creeped out to lay there in the dark. The story centers around 2 people traveling across Europe chasing the legend of Dracula. No synopsis I could give will do it justice, so just read it. This is vampires for grown-ups for sure!

#5. A Rose for the Crown by Anne Easter Smith

This is another great historical fiction story, centered on King Richard III, and will challenge anything you've heard or learned in history class! There is another book by the author, dealing with this same family that I also recommend: Daughter of York.

#6. Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn

This is the first in a series of 9 books (and counting) involving Mitch Rapp, a CIA agent. It is most definitely the best political thriller out there (and I've read A LOT of them!) This book will have you rooting for your country, and the men who fight for it. It's also another, "stay up all night because you can't put it down" book.

#7. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I saved the best for last. Ahhhh, words cannot describe Jamie. This is the first in a series also, and it straddles (no pun intended) genre: historical fiction and romance. In Outlander a 20th century woman crosses through a "stone circle" in England at the precise moment and is transported back to the 18th century, where she meets Jamie, the Scottish love of her life. These books are very intelligent in medicine, history, psychology and pure escapist romance. The 6th one is supposed to come out this year. And those of us in the Jamie cult are eagerly awaiting it. Become a member of this sorority and we'll share the secret handshake!!!

Friday, March 6, 2009

My little Hawaiian

Wes had to do a culture project for school. Normally I dread school projects. I am the least crafty person I know! For this project he had to dress his doll exemplifying a culture of his choice. He had to explain a cultural tradition they do in a presentation. We did the Polynesian culture since he was born in Hawaii. I needed some ideas from my crafty friends to get me started.... I was shocked how many little trinkets and things you can find in Michaels! I think I need go to back there soon and bond and be one with with the craft. Deep breathing exercises weren't even necessary! I really enjoyed spending time with Wes teaching him about a place he has very little memory of. We watched videos on fire dancing (his cultural tradition in his presentation.) We learned about the Polynesian islands, how the people settled Hawaii and so on. It was priceless though when he asked me if his skin was that brown when he lived there! (Yes but he wasn't born that way like he thought! I know there are certain people reading this who will remember him chasing the garbage truck down the street with his naked bottom reflecting a lot of light! Ohhh those tan lines!) I miss Hawaii so much! Living there was always a catch 22 but I am so thankful that God provided us that opportunity. Watch out Erin- we can't wait till you back get there! I actually had a dream that Ben got back in the Marine Corps and we moved out there again. I don't know that Oahu is big enough for Brannon!
*this doll is dedicated to my crafty girls: mom, jill, erin m, and brandy! xoxo

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I am just not meant to post......

I had a whole entry typed up. I mean a long detailed explanation of what has been happening over the last 3 months. I was on fire, I gave witty comments AND pictures. Then when I was proof reading I pressed something on this dang laptop and it erased my entire entry! Try like I might I could not get it back. I almost threw this thing across the room. I can't retype it all. For one, I am creatively drained, and 2 I don't have time to redo the last 30 minutes worth of work. So here it is in a huge nutshell:
I haven't updated my blog in a long time because we moved into our home that took 11 months to build, I did Christmas, I overextended myself in volunteer work at my children's schools, GE cut my husband's salary and I was in a bad mood for a few weeks (and therefor not capable of speaking to other humans), I ripped the ligaments in my ankle stepping in a hole and I've been in a cast and my family has been on meltdown mode because I wasn't taking care of everything. And, now I can sorta walk on my walking boot so I am trying to get my life back to normal (I still can't drive though so I have no independance) and that includes blog updating.
Ok, so there it is. I've been a slacker and I will do better. Although if Holly keeps getting me hooked on good books I will never get anything done.
And because I had good pics posted before and I am not retyping the stories to go with them (maybe another day or time) here is a completely random picture of my dog sleeping on the stairs last week. Can you find her? She's mastered the camo thing.
I will post at least once a week now, unless the computer attacks me again......