Thursday, April 29, 2010

jam & mail

tonight i made my very first ever batch of homemade jam. i found the recipe online, and it was really easy to make, so i thought i should share it here. at first i cringed when i realized it called for equal parts strawberries and sugar. yikes! but then i saw others that called for 5 - 7 cups of sugar, so i figured this one was best. i guess a little sugar never hurt anyone, haha. plus i use organic sugar, i love the idea of it being made from the freshest of berries, picked by us, and also that there is no high fructose corn syrup involved (i try to avoid that stuff as much as i can).

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Ingredients:

1 quart ripe mashed strawberries
4 cups sugar, (do not reduce the sugar)
3/4 cup water
1 box fruit pectin, available at your grocers
Plastic storage containers
Instructions:

Measure 2 cups mashed strawberries into a large bowl. Stir in sugar and let stand for 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan, bring water and pectin to a boil, stirring constantly. Let the mixture boil for one minute while continuing to stir.

Combine fruit mixture with pectin mixture. Stir until all sugar is dissolved (about 3 minutes). Add the remaining strawberries to this mixture.

Fill the plastic containers to within 1/2 inch from the top. Cover with lids and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.

Refrigerate up to 3 weeks. This jam can be frozen for up to one year.

(my mother recommended the new
ball plastic freezer jars and they are great! thanks mom)


it actually made more jam than i thought it would. these jars are 16 oz. each, and it filled 3 and a half of them. so i will freeze a couple and eat the rest now. yum!




in other unrelated news, i wanted to share some things we received in the mail this week. three awesome packages came three days in a row, and it was so exciting opening them up! i love getting surprise mail.

the first box was from target.com, and i was a little confused since i haven't ordered anything from there in a while. in it was this beautiful huge blue serving bowl (it is much bigger than the photo makes it seem). the invoice inside had my sisters name on it. when i told her it had arrived, she said there would be a second package arriving to go along with it, and that they were belated birthday gifts. so on tuesday i was delighted to get another one, and in it was this amazing bird tray with matching napkins. i had seen the tray at ikea when we were in utah, and i told her i really liked it, but that i thought it would be hard to get home in one piece on the plane (it is 13" x 13"). it was really nice that she remembered. i love it all, and cant wait to use them. should i wait for a special occasion? hmmm.



and today danny received this giant box stuffed full of vegan treats from our friend kelly green. in case you don't know her, she owns an amazing all vegan bakery in salt lake city. danny screen printed some totes for her last month, and instead of taking a cash payment, he requested that she pay him in goodies, haha. and wow, did she deliver! i just took this photo this evening, so there are about 5 dillos not pictured, that we already ate! holy crap! thanks so much kelly! :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

strawbeeees!!

on saturday, we went to a local farm to pick strawberries! it was so much fun. the weather was perfect, it was overcast and a little warm, but not too hot. it started to rain right after we left, so we went at just the right time. the strawberry patch is located out near danny's folks house. vicky has taken alanna there before in past years, but this was my very first time. we all had a really good time. boy oh boy do fresh strawberries taste sooo much better than store bought ones. usually the ones out here come all the way from california. can you imagine?

when i was a kid, my family went to oregon one summer to visit relatives, and we spent a whole day picking blueberries. it was awful. i was pretty young, and i remember being so sore and tired and stained when we had finished, that i never wanted to do anything like that again. and it took me years to even want to try and eat another blueberry - i only recently started to enjoy them again. but this trip was much more enjoyable. and the work was easy and rewarding. we filled our boxes pretty quickly, and now we have sooo many yummy strawberries to eat. saturday night i worked until past midnight washing, hulling, and bagging them to be frozen. thanks again vicky for taking us! here are tons of photos i took while we were there :)




malcolm wasn't very helpful. the ones he did pick, ended up in his mouth instead of the box! he calls them strawbees, and he loves to eat them.








he wanted to explore, rather than pick, so we went for a little walk around the back of the field.



these bushes will be covered in blackberries soon! there are rows and rows of them. we plan on going back for some when they are ready to be picked.




after our boxes were full, we had a little fun with this cutout
(click on image to enlarge)





here is our bounty! we took two boxes home with us, and vicky kept one box and the basket. holy moly!



i can't believe he was still eating more!


what a lovely place




a cute little bench painted like a strawberry



after all that picking we went out to eat at the local mexican restaurant in the next town over. then we spent the rest of the evening hanging out at the parents house. it was a very nice chill day. vicky has tons of these beauties growing all around her patio area. she cut these for me to take home.


i enjoyed a bowl full, topped with soyatoo rice whip! yum!


on sunday danny made strawberry pancakes. they were amazing! we also froze some of these to eat for breakfast this week.


we didn't do much on sunday, just ran a few errands, and spent most of the day at home. while we were out we did stop at an area starbucks to see if they had the new vegan frappuccinos, and to our delight, they did! holy crap, it was delicious! i'm gonna be in trouble now, haha. what a great relaxed weekend :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

friday favorite: the berenstain bears and the spooky old tree

it has been a few weeks since i did one of these posts, and i'm not really sure if anyone reads (or enjoys) them anyway? but here is my book pick of the week! today i chose the berenstain bears and the spooky old tree by stan and jan berenstain.


i absolutely adored this story as a child. i hope that you have already seen this book, or that maybe you grew up with it like i did. if not, please go find a copy and read it to your children! i remember getting a little scared and a little excited all at the same time, every single time we would read it. and even though i knew what was going to happen (we read it over and over and over again), i still anticipated turning each page. it is such a simple and fun story. and the illustrations are great. i really enjoy all of the berenstain bears stories (and the pbs program too), but this one is by far the best!

i have the same book that i read as a child. alanna loved reading it with me, and now it is also one of malcolm's favorites. my copy actually belongs to my sister natalie (her name is in the front cover), but since i'm the only one with children, it made it's way to nc with us. maybe someday i will be able to send it back to her?! - don't worry natalie, we are giving it lots of love out here :)





did you read this story as a child?! and if so, did it make you feel a little bit scared? :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

our week (since we've been home)

here's what we've been up to, since we got back from utah.

while we were still out of town, raleigh decided to get really hot. and then all the trees released their pollen. ewww. so we returned to a yard/house/car blanketed with a disgusting yellow layer, and literal tumbleweeds of pollen covering everything. i love spring, and i love all our big trees, but i do not love the pollen out here. salt lake city had been so cold, so it was crazy to come home to 80 degree weather. malcolm wore his first pair of shorts for the year.


can you see the layer of pollen?


but with the pollen, also come caterpillars! and lots of them!



danny's birthday was on the 8th (one day before mine). we had an appointment to have our taxes done that afternoon, so we headed out to the town where his parents live and where our accountant is also located. 2009 turned out to be a pretty amazing year for us - refund wise. hooray! what a great birthday present, haha. after that, we went to dinner with his mother. i gave him an LP he wanted, that he had decided not to get while in slc, but had mentioned to me. and a new vinyl hellboy toy to add to his (huge) collection.


on my birthday, we didn't do much, because danny had a large print job to finish up. i took the kids to the shop, we helped fold shirts (malcolm got into trouble), and then hung out until the order was picked up. after that, we all went to eat at zpizza. garrett also joined us. it was delicious, like always.



danny gave me this gift card! :)
plus he also got me a two pack of "the price is right" & "family feud" games for the wii. yes, i'm an old lady, and i love game shows!


on saturday, we shaved malcolms head. since it is already getting so warm out, he needed a summer friendly haircut. plus it was pretty long and wild, so it was kind of nice to see it all go. and we can let it grow back again next fall/winter.

here is the before:



there was actually more hair than that! keep reading for the after photos.


on sunday we went out to danny's parents house, for a late easter/birthday(s) get-together. vicky made us all easter baskets, she served us yummy homemade vegan lasagna, and way too much delicious dessert! the weather was perfect out, so we spent a lot of the day in the sunshine. it was a lovely time.

blowing dandelions


malcolm found his easter basket!


crazy compton


blowing bubbles




tiramisu, chocolate pudding pie, and a chocolate birthday cake covered in strawberries!


after all that food and dessert, we went for a little walk








we found this funny flyer! oh, north carolina, haha


dan let malcolm ride his motorcycle




and then he let danny ride one too!


malcolm loves playing with "uncle" compton




helping grandpa clean up


on monday evening malcolm and i went out to explore the yard. the sun was setting, and the trees looked awesome in the bright low light.



the caterpillars are starting to get huge, and fuzzy!


on wednesday night, i went out to dinner with a few girl friends. lia, christina, and lana took me out to celebrate my birthday. we ate thai and had some good conversation, which didn't consist solely of kid-related things. it was nice. i am pretty starved for kid-free female adult interaction, so it was a much needed hangout. we are going to try and have a movie night soon too.

they gave me a bunch of sweet gifts!


lana got me this gift box full of lush products. i've heard so many great things about this company, and i know a few people who looove their products, but i have never bought anything lush for myself before. it smells so good, and now it has made my whole bathroom smell good too. yay! thanks again lana :)


lia and christina gave me pretty tulips, some really nice bath products that were made locally (rad!), tea lights and a burner (for a relaxing soak in the tub), and these huge adorable cupcakes!



holy frosting!!


it was really nice of them to get me all that stuff. i love birthdays!

yesterday danny left the shop early, and we drove out to urban outfitters (about 30 min away) to use my gift card. why is it that whenever he gets me one from there, i have the hardest time finding anything that i like... and that fits!?
i love that store. they had tons of cute dresses (i'd like to start wearing them more often), but they were all waaay too short. bummer. i like them to hit me at the knee, and i could not find any.


but i did find a pair of shoes that i saw online and wanted, and they were on clearance! so i got these, and we will go back again later when they have new stuff, to spend the rest.


we also stopped in barnes and noble


lucky got a new bed earlier this week. it makes him smell like cedar :)


today we went out exploring again. but it was hot. like 83 degrees out. ugh. it's too early for it to be this warm, i think. we found this little (big) guy.





i was trying to get a photo of me with the flowers in our yard. then this gust of wind blew my hair all over, it was funny. this last photo somehow makes me look old and young all at the same time. maybe i should start wearing makeup, so that i will look my age?!


i love this lil' guy!


speaking of funny photos, i got my new drivers license in the mail today. oh my, what a terrible photo. yikes! and i get to keep it for 8 years!


and last but not least, i also got a little package today from my friend bethany! she made the card, using one of her photographs. and i totally didn't already have these playing cards, so i'm excited to add something new to my (already huge) tim burton collection! thanks beth :)