Saturday, September 29, 2012

A fall favorite

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One of my favorite things about fall is fresh apple cider. It's perfect heated so it's nice and steamy as I lift my mug to my lips.
It's also perfect when it has mulling spices added to it. A few years ago, I discovered one of my favorite mulling spices in individual bags.

Mmmmm.... so good!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Something Old

I have childhood memories of my mom rolling out pie crusts and other things pastry on this Tupperware mat. The convenience of life in general with bought pie crusts or paper towels floured for patting out biscuit dough, led to the Tupperware mat getting put in a drawer and mostly forgotten. A while back, Mom was cleaning out the cabinets and drawers when she pulled out this mat. Like many things, she asked me if I wanted it before she threw it away.
(I remember asking about it at some point. Plus, after me preaching to her about throwing things away if she hasn't used them in three years, then getting "mad" at her for throwing out our old Atari game.... she often asks me before she tosses stuff. LOL)
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I brought it home with me the last time I was home. (Is that confusing? I have two homes you know. Don't you? My current home and my parent's house.)

For months since being here, it has sat curled up in a drawer in my kitchen. Recently, I've been pulling it out to use it. Whether I am making Whole Wheat Tortillas or kneading bread dough or rolling out dumplings for chicken and dumplings, I can't help but be a little nostalgic. The date mark on the Tupperware pastry mat reads 1965. Wow, plenty of reasons to feel nostalgic with this something older than me!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Preserving tomatoes and other good fresh foods!

One day last week, I stopped at one of the many produce stands nearby.
There's something good about living in the Garden State - lots of fresh local produce at my disposal!
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That day, I picked up tomatoes, apples, corn, green beans and bell peppers. That afternoon, I got busy. I snapped the green beans,
then parboiled those and the corn. After the parboiling, I flash froze them, then later bagged them for the freezer.
The green peppers got sliced and flash frozen, then bagged for the freezer as well.
The apples were cored/sliced/peeled using my handy dandy Pampered Chef gadget.
The apples were then tossed into the crockpot overnight and turned into apple butter which was then canned into jars for later.

The tomatoes were mixed with some peppers, onions, garlic, sauce and spices to make homemade marinara.
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I realized after my busy afternoon was over that I should have bought MORE of each item to put away more for this winter.
I am going to completely love opening up those jars or bags and having the fresh or home canned foods instead of store-bought items!

On that note, we've really been LOVING the blueberry jam I made a few months ago. My mom made several jars of jelly for us as well using
their own blueberries and blackberries. There is a couple from church here that travels to Mississippi every year to visit family.
I LOVE the fact that when I was telling her I wanted to hide away in her suitcase so I could go see my mama and also pick up the jelly Mom
had made for me that she volunteered to go by and get it for us! One day last week, they dropped in on my parents and picked up my care package!
I am so excited to get that package and to see their safe return from their travels!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Needing to Let Go

Last month, my neighbor and I got together and had a yard sale. I thought I purged my house before that of unwanted or unnecessary items.
But, this past weekend, I got the urge to dig a bit deeper. I have come to the realization that last month's purge avoided things with sentimental value.

I am lucky to a degree in that I get to go through everything we own every few years and purge. Yay for military life, right?!? Right? Well, some times. At least I don't have an attic full of treasures that have been there for an untouched number of years. I do have "treasures" that get looked at every few years and moved with us anyway.

Yesterday, I dug a Rubbermaid container out from under my bed. Ugh.... I should have taken a photo of the whole container. Some of its contents included paper dolls from my childhood, my ballerina jewelry box full of small photos from classmates from years gone by, MHS Homecoming pins, the leather wallet from Guatemala that my cousin sent to me after her missionary trip there years ago and several other things. One of those "other" things is this little metal tin.
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A long forgotten friend gave this to me in the seventh grade. I can't remember what was inside it when she gave it to me. Peppermint? Beads? Preteen jewelry?
I can't remember! What is inside it now has been there for many years since. As I took them out yesterday and looked at them again, I decided this was one
something from the box that I was going to let go. I'm sure there are other things, but those will come another time. One step at a time, ok?

The inside has held these "friendship pins".
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Yeah, safety pins with beads on them that we thought looked so totally cool hooked to the shoelaces of our Puma tennis shoes back in 1980-something. Seventh grade.
I'd have to do math to figure out that exact year. But in seventh grade, these were so much more than safety pins wired with beads.
They were our symbol that we were connected to something bigger than ourselves. Some crazy sign of friendship that we thought looked so cool.

Yesterday afternoon, as I sat in my bedroom floor looking at these beaded pins, these "friendship pins" I tried to remember anyone who actually gave me one of these.
Oh sure, there's Kristi who came to mind, but who else? That unanswered question led me to my decision to let these go. Kristi and I are in touch in other ways.
Our friendship isn't attached to these pins. It may still be attached to that half heart "Best Friends" charm on my charm bracelet, but that's another post for another time! These little pins and this little heart shaped calico print tin hold no significance in my life at this point in time.
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Do you have a hard time letting go of sentimental things regardless of whether or not you can remember the memory clearly? I do! I hope to overcome that someday!
In the meantime, I'll keep taking these baby steps.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fall TV Premieres

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I've never watched Law and Order, but was intrigued the last time we were in New York City and ran across the film crew.
I might have to watch the show sometime to see this scene.

Are you excited about any fall premieres?
I don't watch a lot of tv, but am excited about The Good Wife, Revenge, Grey's Anatomy and Hawaii Five-O returning.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Beautiful Glass

Since living in Kansas, I have a love for all things old. Well, I've probably always had that love. It just peaked when we lived in Kansas. At some point, I picked up a few old Ball Mason jars at a yard sale. I've used them since living here on the kitchen counter for snacks or candy or even storing homemade granola.

Last Saturday after I dropped Teen off at church for a youth group trip, I passed by a moving sale.
Now, I truly do not need to bring ONE more thing into this house. I need to take a few thousand things OUT instead.
(Yes, even after my yard sale and purge last month, I'm still finding things I need to rid from us!)
But, while browsing through the contents of this person's moving sale tables, I was drawn to a table with Mason jars for sale.

Do I need them? No.
Will I actually can with them? No.
Are they pretty? Yes.
Are they a "deal"? Um, maybe.
Can I find a way to use them? Well, sure!

They were three for $5. I found four that I really wanted. I let Roo pick two more that were his favorites. The lady who was selling the items told about these jars being in her grandmother's basement. She's remembered her great grandmother canning with them. On her thirtieth birthday, she was eating a piece of bread with peach preserves when her grandmother said, "I remember canning those on the day you were born!" Yipes!!! ... not sure canned food is supposed to last that long, but am glad the lady survived the old peach preserves! LOL What a story!

I didn't photograph all of them because these four are the truly unique ones to me.
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I'd never heard of Lustre brand jars. They are from Philadelphia so that's neat.
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Atlas jars are pretty common like Ball. But I didn't already have any with this wire and bail closure.
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My only issue with them is that rust on the wire. I don't know what to do with that as far as cleaning. Do I clean it or replace it? Or leave it alone? It's strictly on the outside of the jars and doesn't touch the contents within. (That's ground oats in that one jar in case you're wondering.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Catch up...

I've let my blogging slip a little in the past few days. We've had some busy days! I'll catch you up a little bit and share a couple of photos from last week.

Teen had his first official Cross Country meet last Tuesday. His time for the XC-5K was 20min 49sec. WOW!!! I can't fathom running 3.whatever miles in that short of time, much less through the woods, up and down hills! I'm so impressed by him! He's doing great.

Son2 is also doing well with school. Tonight was Open House, so I finally got to meet his teacher. He really likes her and my first impression of her was a good one too. :)

Last Friday, I had a short visit from Lawanda, a friend I met first online at a scrapbook forum. That online meeting was over nine years ago! We met in person in Nashville at CKU-M seven years ago. Last week, she was traveling through on her way home from an east coast beach trip with her mom, sister and two little ones. She was coming very close to me, so detoured a little bit to stop in for a visit! I'm glad she did! Still being a part of that scrapbook community even though many of us no longer scrapbook on a regular basis has been good for me. We are so much a part of each other's daily lives. With my various moves, I always have friends that move with me!
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On that same night, G-Dub brought home another cooler of lobster from Maine! Yummy!
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Food

I "sort" of pay attention to food labels and I've done a decent job of avoiding certain things. I'm a hypocrite when it comes to high fructose corn syrup though. I won't buy soandso that has it in it, but continue to drink Dr. Pepper on a mostly daily basis. :rolleyes

We all love it. We all need it. But, is all of what we're eating really "food"?

Lately, I've done a lot of reading online on various blogs and such about Real Food - Whole Food - the kind of food my mother and grandmother cooked for years which was real ingredients. It has really opened my eyes to some things that so often we all take for granted. I was in the grocery section of Walmart picking up some school supplies recently. We don't have the big Supercenter Walmart here, but instead just regular stores with some groceries. I kept thinking NONE or almost none of this stuff is food in the true sense of the word! It's no wonder that our country is so unhealthy and out of shape with various sicknesses in addition to disorders and allergies and you name it. I have come to believe that you can truly blame it all on the crap we've put into our bodies in the last fifty years all for the sake of convenience.

One thing I read and have seen stated multiple times is that if it says, "Healthy. Low-fat. Low calorie. No fat." or any other "health" claim, you should avoid it because it's likely full of all sorts of evils that are only going to harm you in some form or fashion. We've been so brainwashed in our society to jump on the latest band wagon of what some scientist or doctor claims is good for us that we have been at a loss as to what to believe. How sad it that? It's so sad that we've ignored real food.

Thankfully, I have had the blessing of staying at home over the last decade and a half. That makes it easy for me to cook our own meals, though I don't always do it. I'll admit that just last night, I picked up a pizza on our way home because I hadn't taken the time to pre-plan the night's meal. We left right after the school bus dropped Son2 off, drove an hour to get to a Cross Country Meet, spent thirty minutes there, then drove the hour back home. Dinner was an after thought. But, most of the time when I cook at home, I know exactly what is going into our foods. That doesn't mean it has always been the best choices. Oh, sure, I can still claim that my children have never had Hamburger Helper meals. But, I'd be misleading if I didn't admit they've had their share of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese out of the box, or soups from mixes in addition to soups from scratch. And snacks.... well, they've had both in that spectrum too. Store bought peanut butter and crackers right alongside fresh apples from the local stand.

I haven't done an about face just yet and probably won't become a full fledged Whole Foodie. But this past week, I've turned a few degrees in the right direction. I have really paid attention to what is in our pantry and fridge from those times I slid or just wasn't paying attention or was just buying it because we've bought it in the past and liked it or "thought" it was good for us. (Granola bars, cereals, snacks, etc.) Those times when I was brainwashed. I have thrown some stuff out, but my frugal self has a hard time throwing away some thing that is unopened and brand new. I think I need to read those ingredients again! My plan for now is to pay more attention to ingredients in the store before I bring the item home. Ideally, five ingredients or less and all that you can read/pronounce, no additives or dyes or "chemicals". I also would like to do a little more meal planning, putting more thought into just what we're going to eat and how it is going to help us rather than hurt us.

School lunches are going to need a bit of tweaking. If I'm going to really be true to my new found knowledge, I can't continue to buy our favorite "wheat" bread because it really isn't wheat bread. I made my own wheat bread this week though! But I think the boys would snarl their noses at sandwiches with it. I tried Son2 on some toast this morning with it and it didn't go over very well. It tasted great, but it didn't taste like "normal" bread as toast. Patience and continued exposure may eventually pay off. ;)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Another wreath re-do

I took my fall wreath out of the container last night and decided it looked extremely sad. I put this thing together years... YEARS ago. It's been moved several times and adorned the doors of five of our homes. I've fluffed it a couple of times, and even reattached some of the leaves a couple of times. But, it still looked sad to me last night.

I didn't take a good before photo because I thought I already had one. Before photos are always supposed to look bad anyway, right?
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In all fairness, I did find a better photo of the wreath last year, just not the entire wreath.
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Son2 and I were in ACMoore yesterday. I had sort of already decided before even opening the wreath container that I would rework it, so I picked up a spring of fall flowers with a couple of sunflowers on it. My neighbor came over in the middle of my mess of wreath on the kitchen counter, flowers, leaves and dinner dishes everywhere.
(Why does someone show up at your door at times like that?) She mentioned that she might have some more things in her stash I could use. So, I went over to check out what she had. I came back with a few sprigs and extras. I knew with the old leaves and the new sprig I'd bought all would be fine. I played with it and arranged it last night, then took a second look this morning before gluing it all in place and hanging it on the door.
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I like it. I had a letter "D" that I thought about using, but I went back with the scarecrow instead.
For now.
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Around the neighborhood

I have had my mind on Thanksgiving quite often recently. Not because of the weather or school starting or anything holiday related.
It's because of the visitors in our neighborhood that I see on my walks or drives through the neighborhood.
This photo was taken one Sunday morning as we were leaving for church and noticed them enjoying my neighbor's yard.
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We have two flocks of turkeys in our neighborhood that parade around through the yards and into the woods.
I've had to stop on my walk to let them cross the street ahead of me.
I've also had to stop while driving down the road and let another group cross. There is no shortage of turkeys in this area this year.
They are giving a whole new meaning to the term "free range turkey"!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Around Bar Harbor

On our final night in Maine, we finally made it down to the downtown Bar Harbor area.
We'd driven through a few nights before, but had decided to wait before touring around among the crowds.

There were all sorts of shops. Some were just touristy shops where you could buy souvenirs.
Many were local artist shops and galleries. Of course, there were eateries and specialty stores.
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Son2 was disappointed that we never saw a real moose in Maine.
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Near the water, there were many more restaurants with views overlooking the harbor.
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I wanted a lobster pot buoy as my souvenir but I never got one. Photos will have to do.
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Monday, September 3, 2012

Canoeing on Long Pond

Well, two out of four canoed. The other two sat back and enjoyed the ride while taking in the scenery and serenity.
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We followed the map and found Rum Island where we decided to dock and explore.
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Getting up there was easy. Now, how are you going to get down?
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On the trip back to the dock, I tried to get a photo of the three of us.
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Ok, but let's try again.
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Ugh!
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Ok, I give up! What else can we do as we ride? Water writing graffiti on Teen's life jacket? Yeah!
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It was a beautiful morning on a beautiful lake. Love Acadia National Park!
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