July 29, 2010

Bear and I will GO...


Bear and I are going to be on a quick trip these next few days.  It will be a perfect opportunity to try out my new Go Girl

Chat with you when we get back,
XOXO

July 26, 2010

A Pirate’s life for me


I had fun this weekend, did you?
This guy certainly had a fun weekend.

espresso

he helped make a birthday cake-
A PIRATE Birthday cake, Mateys!
(some of us also had espresso to keep the energy flowing, but that’s besides the point).

To warm up for this culinary weekend, I had made some yummies a while back.  One of my recipes involved these simple ingredients:

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chocolate wafers and a pint of whipping cream that’s been (you guessed it) whipped.  I just assembled it Oreo cookie style,

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coated the whole thing with the remaining whipped cream, added some chocolate jimmies on top and let it hang out in the fridge for a while.  I have no photographic proof of what I just told you, but trust me that it is exactly what I did.  

And trust me that the end result was a smashing success.

This weekend's dessert was different.  It was a pirate ship: it had just ransacked some gold from unsuspecting targets and the pirates on board were about to make poor Granny walk the plank.

walk the plank
                (this is so not appropriate)

It had a mermaid at it’s bow and her tail at it’s stern;  shark infested waters and cannons set to fire.

a pirate's cake for me!

I think the birthday boy man liked it. 

What’s more-the giggling and gossiping with the other skalleywags in my galley made me question whether or not a pirate’s life might indeed be for me...

Naaaah, but making pirate cakes?  Now that has TJ written all over it.

PS: Happy birthday to my newest sweet sweet sweeter than sweet- niece C!!!  Can't wait to meet you!!!!

July 20, 2010

Calypso


I won’t lie to you- life lately is a runaway horse and I’m desperately trying to hold on to the reins. 
Not that this is a bad thing.  It’s just wildly different from what I am used to.

Most days I like this new version.

Other days I don’t: I squirm and cringe at the adjustment.

Yesterday though was a “none of the above” kind of day.  And these kind of rarities are ones that stop me in my tracks...

You know those Putumayo CDs?  Well I’m a sucker for them, so when I recently discovered one at a yard sale, I was all about waving my lucky quarter around and scoffing that treasure right up.  

calypso

Calypso music.  Perfect for a little summertime fun, I thought.

Know another type of music I like?  Joss Stone.

Joss 

The girl rocks and she just OOZES girl power.  I’ve liked her for quite a while now, but I’ve never bought any of her CDs (why?!).  This caused a problem recently when I wanted to use one of her songs in our Girls On The Run slideshow.  

In the end, I bought the song I needed from an I-Tune kind of place online.  Problem solved.  Well, kind of.

I just find

Joss 1 
Joss Stone

J0ss2
so darn inspirational

Joss 3

that I added a "need to purchase her CDs!" to my constant running list of things I should be on the look out for (do you have one of those?  Please say I’m not the only one!).

Yesterday I was driving with Bear, struggling to stay in a positive mood.  I was tired, overwhelmed and frankly PISSED at my current situation (which is wildly outlandish, but I was seriously in a bad bad mood).

Joss Stone was the furthest thing from my mind...


JOss Stone


I had cracked my Calypso case open for it's maiden voyage, but I did not find West Indian music- 

I found Joss Stone.  Say what?
How did she get in there?

I then proceeded to bawl my eyes out: 

In embarrassment of how selfish my thoughts were, in a release of all the pressure I’ve been feeling of late and in celebration and sweet praise of 
THE MOST OBVIOUS FACT
that God is in the details.  He’s always rooting for me, always there to hold me up and always outsmarting me with a perfect way to snap me out of a funk. 

Who knows better how to handle a moody TJ than He?

The very same God who probably found humor in the fact that Calypso is a Greek name which originally meant "I will conceal" or "I will cover (with a veil.)".

You got me good God and I love you for it.

July 17, 2010

Sample In A Jar


dehydrated strawberries

A teeny tiny bit ago, I had a post where I mentioned the crazy amounts of strawberries Champ and I had picked: it spurred a few questions from some of you.

Since you were kind enough to ask and since Bear and I wolfed down the remaining bit of our “first of the season” jam jar this morning, I figure hey, why not?  

LET’S TALK STRAWBERRIES.

So now, I present to you...

“TJ’s Strawberry Tutorial” (aka- what on God’s green Earth did she do with 50lbs of strawberries?!)

1.We ate a few pounds before I could even process them some

2. I dehydrated some

Do you have a food dehydrator?  I was given mine by my Gram who didn’t need it anymore.  If you don’t have a Gram with a dehydrator to give, try scouring thrift shops and tag sales.  I’ve seen a bunch this summer already and most of the time they’re $10.00 or less: well worth the investment!  You could also run your oven on it’s lowest setting- check the Internet for tips on that.
Anyway, to dehydrate- I rinse and hull the strawberries.  Next I cut them in half (sometimes thirds if they’re thick) and toss them on the dehydrating tray.  I click the thing on and then I wait- A day and a half to two days later I have scrumptious strawberry morsels ready to be added to homemade granola, muffins or trail mix.  I store the strawberries in a large mason jar.

3.  I froze some

This year I froze 4 gallons of the red gems.  I began by rinsing and hulling the berries.  Then I contemplated slicing them, but instead threw them into ziplock bags whole as I knew I’d be using the majority of them in smoothies throughout the year.  
Do you know that trick of sucking the extra air out of the bag with a straw right before sealing it all the way?  Makes it vacuum packed fresh every time!



4. I canned some jam.  In fact, I doubled the recipe 

I’m a jam girl, not jelly.  I like seeing the fruit in there.  In the middle of winter when I’m smearing jam on my toast, I see those bits of berries and am transported back to the summery fields where I had picked them. 
I’m also a canning girl, but not a canning recipe follower, so let me show you the recipe below (incase you ARE a recipe follower) and then tell ya what I did (incase you’re not):

Strawberry Jam (makes about 9 half pint jars)
4C hulled and crushed strawberries (about 2 qts)
2T lemon juice
7C sugar
1/2t butter
1 (3oz) pouch liquid pectin
In a pot, combine the strawberries, lemon juice and sugar.  Let stand for 2 hrs.  Then heat and stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves.  Stir in butter and bring to a full rolling boil.  Stir in pectin.  Keep boiling for a full minute. stirring constantly.  Remove from pan and skim off any foam.  Allow jam to cool 5 minutes then fill and process jars for 10 minutes.

*from “Blue Ribbon Preserves” by Linda Amendt

Field notes: I don’t add butter.  I don’t use lemon juice- instead I’m sure to add in a few under ripe strawberries to balance the flavor and add acidity.  I don’t get along with liquid pectin, so I only use the powdered kind (sometimes the fruit has enough pectin in it that you don’t even need to add in any extra).  I NEVER use 7C sugar.  I seem to hover at about 3-4C; I determine how much I need when the jam is beginning it’s first boil. sweeten it to taste since whatever it tastes like here, it will taste like when it’s a finished product, too.  (The lesser amount of sugar never seems to effect whether or not the pectin sets).  It’s true- I like bits of fruit in my jam, but if they’re too big then it doesn’t spread well.  To remedy this, I use my Magic Bullet (well it’s a Bella Cucina, but same thing) to shred up the fruit a little bit before beginning the jam making process.  As for the jars themselves- I don’t use half pints for this recipe because they don’t hold enough jam in my opinion!  For this recipe, 4 pint jars should be the same as 8 half pint jars.  I usually boil one more jar than I think I need, that way, if I do need it, I can fill it to whatever level, store it in the fridge and use it as my “house jam” for the present moment.

And that my friends, solves "The Case of the Multiple Strawberries".

PS: My title today  is from a Phish song.  It really doesn’t have much to do with canning I suppose, but it’s a well loved song of mine, none the less

July 10, 2010

Birthday Bear

The full tilt whirl of visitors has subsided
for a bit.


Today Champ and I had a rare day home together with Bear... 


We glided through it getting small chores done, playing the afternoon away and eating ice cream for dinner (shhh, don't tell anyone)...




I'm even showered and ready for bed and it's barely past 8pm.

This is a rare moment for sure, so what suddenly creeps into my mind now that all the other distractions are at bay?


Geez Louise- my little baby boy is now 2!







YIKES!



Yes his birthday shirt is adorable, I agree with you.  Head here if you'd like to see where I ordered it from.

Also?  While my in-laws were here last week (or was it 2 weeks ago?  I can't remember who was here when!) they were able to experience one of our bear visits first hand:

From the safety of the windows, the largest bear we've seen to date rambled all about the yard; eating compost here and fire pit ashes there.  When he (she) had had it's fill and was tired of spectators, it swaggered on up into the woods, completely unrushed.

I have no pictures of the bear, but here are the excited onlookers:

               (ok, so they ventured past the windows on to the deck)

I tell you this story because I was reminded of it today:

Champ: no I didn't have shoes on my feet
Bear: why?
Champ: well, I was on the grass and it was wet, so I went barefoot.
Bear: barefoot?
Champ: yes barefoot.
Bear: you stepped on a bear?
Champ: (unable to answer)
Bear: your foot was on a bear?
Champ: (still unable to fully answer)


*I broke my own rule and blogged on the weekend in honor of Bear's birthday.  Hope you don't mind.

July 07, 2010

Time

You know what?

I am here today complete of guilt or regret for not being around these past few days (and days!).

In fact, I am probably going to drop away again by tomorrow as we are in the season of  constant company (along with the usual work and activities).  I adore it (really, I mean it.  I love visitors!), it most certainly means my time must be prioritized…

It’s kind of a liberating feeling to throw my blogging routine to the wind.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you should try it!  So no guilt, no worries and most certainly, nothing’s wrong.  I’m just not blogging or visiting blogs right now. 

Love to you all!!

I plan on being back in action…eventually, but for the time being, I’ll enjoy this brief moment in bloggy land. 
A few updates?  Sure (complete without edited photos)!

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Bear turns 2 this Thursday- YIKES!

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We picked and processed 50 (yes 50) pounds of strawberries.

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We traded in our wonderful, but on it’s last leg Subaru Forester for a used VW rabbit.  We’re quite the scene now: I have a red Golf and Champ has a grey Rabbit.

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We had friends and family floating in and out over the Fourth of July.


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Our town held it’s first annual Fourth of July Tractor Parade.  Bear and his buddies thought it was the best thing since sliced bread.
‘til next time!  XOXOXO