Thursday, October 1, 2015

DIY Ruler Growth Chart

Hey Y'all -
How is this week going. My allergies are going bonkers. Stuffy and runny nose that is worse at night and first thing in the morning. This happens every year at the change of seasons. I have to keep telling myself that I like this time of year. It is cooling down but still warm enough outside that you enjoy being outside without having 4 layers on underneath your coat.

My latest project was a DIY Ruler Growth Chart - thank you Back to Her Roots via Pinterest.

 What you need:
1 - 8 inch x 6 ft pine board
sand paper - fine grit (~220)
small container of Minwax wood stain and/or polyurethane
black acrylic paint

1. I started with gently standing the board down my hand and smooth all the edges. The board I got at Home Depot. I looked at a few pieces to choose one that I liked how the grain and knots were. Also be sure the check out the edges of the board.
2. 2 coats of wood stain on all sides. Follow directions on the can.
3. 1 coat of polyurethane and allow to dry.

I was able to do all 3 of these steps in one day. I let it dry for 24 hrs before adding my ruler lines.

4. Marked out every 1 inch on the board. 1 inch marks for the 1/8 inch marks, 2 inch marks for the 1/4 inch marks.
- I marked the board in pencil first then went back with the paintbrush.
- looking back I shoulder have used a straight edge for the painting aspect. 

5. I then printed numbers 1-6 in a font that I liked. Traced the outline with pencil to make a depression into the wood. Using that depression, I painted the numbers.

6. I Then did 2 more coats of polyurethane after the acrylic had dried.

To hand this beauty, I bought picture hangers from Joann's that was simple to hammer right onto the board. I just did my best to make sure it was center to hang evenly.

Finished Product hung on the wall. I hung it 6 inches of the ground because the "ruler" starts at 6 inches. The lines are pretty close to accurate but not perfect. If I was selling this I wouldn't sell this one, but I like the way it turned out so I'll keep it up. I wrote in the actual measurement when I measured the kids along with the date.

Hope this inspires you to get crafty.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Apples Galore!!

 Happy Almost Fall!!

Well in the Northeast, Fall is pretty much equivalent to apples, pumpkins, and hay bales. We recently were able to go apple picking at a friends house who has a great abundance of apples and was not stingy with sharing with us. So now that you go apple picking and get a little carried away and fill a reusable shopping bag full what are you going to do with them. Thats when I started going through pinterest for ideas. I mean you can only eat so many apples right...

So here is what we came up with...

1) Apple Butter in the crockpot (x2 batches)
2) Apple Sauce
3) Apple pies
4) Apple pie filling - canned
5) Apple fritter bread (x2)

Now don't go thinking that I am some sore of super woman in the kitchen. This was over the course of a few weeks. The apple butter was made from a different batch of apples.

Apple Butter in the Crockpot -
Recipe adapted from Simply Canning
  • Fill crockpot full with apples sliced and cored - I did not peel them.
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
I sliced and cored apples by hand because the apples were drops and not the greatest looking and cut out the bad parts. It did not affect the fast. I let the crockpot sit on high overnight. Then used the immersion blender to get a good consistency and break up the peels. I have a kitchen aid one that I use all the time.

After blending, I wanted it thicker so let it sit on low for another 10-12 hours when went to work.
It will be a nice brown color. You can let it cook and thicken to your liking. Next, just fill your jars with a 1/4 inch of space from the top, wipe the rims, place the lids, and water bath can for 5 minutes.

For canning I place my jars and rims in the dishwasher and run a sanitize cycle. Put the lids in a small sauce pan with water to let those heat up. Then follow these instructions.

I made 2 batches of this it was So easy. I have a half full jar that I didn't can in the fridge for immediate use. Which is excellent on fresh bread.

Apple Sauce -
I did this stove top because I knew that it wouldn't take long. Again, I peeled and cored apples by hand because they had some bad spots, but it didn't take too long to fill my big 8 quart "spaghetti" pot from All Clad.

I added 1-2 cups of homemade apple cider that we had made and canned last year. Side note - I need to use that up, so if you have any ideas please let me know.

 Heat it up - medium heat and stir. The apples break down pretty nicely on their own, just stir so it doesn't burn on the bottom. Sterilize canning jars, fill, and water bath can as you did above but for 20 minutes. I am never sure how long to water bath can so I am usually looking how to see what is recommended. If you are not sure then I would advise you to do that as well. You don't want to do the hard work of making and canning all of this for it not to seal properly.

Apple Pies - I made 3!!

 I cooked one to eat now and it was delicious. I don't use some secret recipe either. Just the one in the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. The recipes are tried and true. I use this book for most of my breads as well; zucchini, banana,....

I knew that I had a lot of apples and we are hosting Thanksgiving at our house, so I like to pre-make my pies. I used pillsbury pre made crust to make it easier on me. Then we got to peeling and slicing.

This Apple Peeler is one of the greatest inventions. It is so easy to use even my 3 year old can do it. If you don't have one I would highly recommend it. It also makes eating the apples fun, she calls it a slinky.

We filled this bowl fairly quickly using our fun gadget. Then followed the recipe for the pies. I froze 2 of the pies, unbaked. When it is time to eat them, I just thaw them and bake as I normally would. It really can't get any easier than that. I have been trying to do a lot of prep work, and pre making meals for when I have this baby (due Oct. 20th)

Canned Apple Pie Filling -
I do love apple pie but I didn't want to fill my freezer with pies. I found this recipe for canned apple pie filling. Best of all you can use it for anything. Adding to oatmeal, on top of pancakes or waffles, or just on top of ice cream. This was also fairly easy to make.

Disclaimer; there is some controversy whether you can can cornstarch or need to use Ultra Gel as the thickener. I decided to just use cornstarch and take my chances. I looked for the Ultra Gel and couldn't find it and didn't want to postpone my plans of making this on Sunday.

I filled my jars about 3/4 full with apple slices. Made my syrup (below), filled the jars with syrup to cover the apples, then added more apples to fill the jar. Some needed a little more syrup on top. I filled 6 quart size jars.

 I had a little extra syrup left over and dipped some apples, it was tasty. Can't wait to break one of the babies open. The blog states that you should be able to fill a pie or 9x9 pan (for apple crisp) with 1 quart size jar.

The last thing that I did with these apples was also the first thing - Apple Fritter Bread - thank you Pinterest. I have seen this on pinterest and couldn't wait to try it out. It did not disappoint.

I don't know where it originated from but I used The Baking Chocola Tess Recipe. No need to change a thing. The kids and I ate the first bread I made in less than 24 hours. I made another one this past Sunday.

Happy first day of Fall!! 

~ Katie

Monday, September 21, 2015

Summer catch up!

Hey guys,

Well it has been an incredibly busy summer. I am sure that everyone has enjoyed the warmth and sunshine that we have had lately. We have spent lots of time at the park and working on outdoor projects. The kids have figured out how to work water guns.

In the background you can see the bison fence. That was quite the project here. It is finally done and the bison should be showing up sometime in the next month or so.
Just like any little boy - Walter loves his trucks. He will push this up and down the hill for an hour. Put things in it and dump it out. 

This is a great picture of all the cousins. They range from 7 years old to 1 year old. This is at Granny's house. It is quite the chore to get all of them to sit still to take the picture, never mind trying to get them all to smile. Yay for popsicles.

As a child I used to love going to the beach and playing in the water. I am still searching for places to bring the kids that is close by. I could drive to Hampton beach, but that it about an hour away, and I just can't guarantee that the kids will want to play for long enough to justify sticking them in the car for that long. So this is a near by place on the river with a little sandy strip. They seemed to really enjoy playing with the sand.

Well we hope that you all had a great summer. We sure have. We have lots more to share soon. Be on the look out for my apple post, I was given lots of apples and have been busy in the kitchen.

~ Katie

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sick Kids on a Monday

My oldest was up at 2:30 am throwing up. I am thankful that she has been through this fairly recently and remembered to throw up in the garbage can, at least once she got into my room. She had decided to sleep in her castle last night, so it was fairly easy clean up of her pillow and blanket. She crawled in bed with me, which would not have happened if Wally was around (he is away for work). She threw up 4 or 5 more times until 6 o'clock.

Once Walter woke up, he looked like he had spit up on his pj's so I decided to give him juice instead of milk first thing. Good thing I did, not long after he was throwing up in my bed. It's harder with him, he just doesn't get what is going on. Thankfully I had towels in the bed from overnight with Faelyn and that caught most of the mess. We had a quiet morning of hanging out in Mommy and Daddy's bed and watching cartoons.

Neither of them ate very much, but they did eat and we held off on all dairy. Which I have learned is key when there is vomitting involved. 

Once they were feeling a little better we played outside for a little while and ate lunch. 

She is starting to refuse to nap, however she fell asleep while watching Princess and the Frog. 

After dinner we decided to work on our Father's Day project. Better late than never right. I decided to have the kids make a stepping stone. We have one area that is shady and won't be a great place for flowers and I like the idea of having this keepsake. This is probably more for me than for Daddy.
This kids had a great time doing it and needed a little help to make sure MOST of the stones are right side up. Walter also refused to put his hand in so there is only one.

On Sunday, my sister, mom, and I ran the RibFest 5 miler. It was RAINY, but warm, so it wasn't too bad to run in. It was not our best time, however we were just out there to have fun. My mom, however was only 40 seconds behind us. Man her speed sure has picked up. She recently has taken up cycling after doing the 5 bough bike tour of NYC. Which is also a fun event, not competitive at all. She has completed a duathalon and signed up for her first tri. I am so proud of her, at 61 years old she is still running marathons and now doing triathlons. 

On saturday, we took a trip to the dump, the recycling was overflowing in the garage. Typically Wally makes the dump runs however since he gone for the next few weeks I NEEDED to go. At the dump we have a "Treasure Shack" where people bring things that are still good to use. I found this lovely item, for my little boy that loves tractors it was a win. and FREE. This drives my husband crazy that I do this, but I love it, and also return the favor.

So there was my last few days in a glance, a little backwards but thats ok.

I also had to do some meal planning - just for my sanity as a single mom this week. However things are always subject to change.

Monday: Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas

Tuesday: Eggplant Parm

Wednesday: Curry Chickpeas with Rice (from Pioneer Woman)

Thursday: Mac and Cheese (may also use the Pioneer Woman recipe)

Friday: Leftovers

Question of the Day:

What is on your menu this week?

Do you every pick things up at the dump or off the side of the road?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Love Summer!

Hello All -
It has been a while since i have been back on here. Have you all survived the winter. It is springtime in New England and getting warm, only a few more days until summer officially hits.

This week was the first week of our CSA ( which I love. It is all locally grown and organic. This was this weeks pick up. Spinach, Lettuce, garlic and onion scallions, basil, radishes, swiss chard, and rhubarb. I don't know what I am going to do with the garlic and onion scallions at this time. So if you have any suggestions I am open to them. Just leave me a comment at the bottom. The rhubarb will most likely go into a pie with some strawberries. Strawberry picking started this week in New Hampshire.

In addition to the CSA we also have a garden of our own. I am doing things a little different this year. We have expanded the garden to 20' x 20'.  I am also using soaker hoses for the first time instead of a sprinkler. The past few years I have had issues with my tomato plant leaves yellowing and dying therefore not producing a lot of fruit. I will keep you updated on how it works. I am also putting the weed blocker fabric down to cut down on weeding. Trying to keep things as simple as possible for myself this year.

This week was this little dude's birthday! He is 2! I can't believe that the time has flown by. He is such a little boy. Loves wearing his boots, riding his bike, trying to ride daddy's, playing in the dirt, climbing rocks, playing the the dogs ... and of course he loves his Mommy.

Bison Lasagna -
This is a basic lasagna recipe just using ground bison instead of beef.

 Relaxing after our run - I love sitting on the porch, in the shade to rehydrate and stretch after running. The pups still do some short runs with me. My little black dog has a bum knee or 2. Depending on the day so he doesn't go with me much any more. Forest (here) goes every once in a while. He doesn't do longer than 3 miles on a leash very well.

Any good plans for Father's Day? I am running a 5 mile race on Sunday with my mom and sister. My dad will watch the kids then RibFest afterwards. Wally is away for work, so we will celebrate with him later. I also have a little craft to do with kids for him. 

Do you buy Father's Day Gifts or make them? I like to make them, a little more personal, and the kids are small. I will buy my father something and we got him a card at the store.

Hope you have a great weekend!

~ Katie

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Meal Planning on a Tuesday

Sunday was a busy day therefore meal planning for the week was not done. I did however have dinner for monday night at least accounted for. Mondays are especially important to have done and/or planned because Wally picks the kids up from daycare and I have some me time.

Right now my "me" is going through a discipleship program with my pastor's wife. I am loving the program and the time that I get to spend with her. Even though most days I am exhausted from work. It is a good time to recharge my batteries. And it is just what I need.

So, Monday - Wally and the Kids had frozen tortilla and peas. It is quick and easy for him to make. Just boil some water.
Tuesday- Orange chicken, broccoli, and quinoa

Wednesday - Venison steaks, sweet potato, and a veggie (of course)

I didn't plan any further because I really have no idea what I want to make. The plan is to go grocery shopping on Wednesday, so I will go downstairs through the freezer and see what kind of meats we have and plan for Thursday, Friday, Saturday.

Sunday - EASTER - we are having Ham, scalloped potatoes, 2 different veggies, salad, and rolls. The veggies and salad my mother and mother in law are bringing. My mother is also bringing a dessert; most likely carrot cake cupcakes.

I am in a cooking rut and really am lacking the motivation to try new things. I do enjoy pinterest for that reason, gives me a good visual or different dishes. They it is deciding whether it is kid friendly enough. Luckily my kids are pretty easy going and will eat a variety of dishes.

So what are your easter plans? My in-laws are coming up on Saturday. So we will be around doing some sort of activity I assume. My mother in law wants to plant seedlings with the kids. She asked if we were going to decorate eggs. I wasn't going to, but I know that she always does so I feel that I should do it. We don't eat a ton of hard-boiled eggs, but I guess I can make a point to eat them for that week. And I am sure that the kids will enjoy it.

Do you have any old standbys that you always fall back on?
Do you have any easter traditions? Do you decorate eggs?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sunday Recap

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? The weekends seem to go by so quickly lately.

Saturday we had some snow, and I honestly can't remember what we did or ate during the day.

Sunday, started off with Wally getting up with the kids, so I slept in a little bit. Wally and Faelyn made some eggs for breakfast, then they headed to church in the morning. I did not go in the morning because I had a race at 11:15. I was able to clean the house and do some more laundry while the house was quiet and the kids weren't making messes at the same time.

I headed to Manchester for the Shamrock Shuffle.

It was a quick 2 mile race. There was a TON of people there. They announced that it was the largest race in Millennium Running history. I finished in 18:05. Which I was very pleased. I am getting closer to the 9:00 min/mile mark and can't want to make it into the 8's. The training is starting to pay off, it is too bad that kids were sick this week. It should be a good summer with some of the races that I have planned if this keeps up.

After the race, I headed home. The kids were already down for their afternoon naps. I decided that morning I wanted BLT's for lunch. So with the extra bacon I made baked potato soup with this recipe.
The only minor change I made was instead of 6 c. of low fat milk, I used 2 c. half and half and 4 c. of 1% milk. I think there is something to having a little bit more fat with the creamy soups.

Started with cut bacon into strips and fried that. Leave the bacon drippings for the next step.
 Add flour to bacon drippings.
 Bake potatoes. I used red potatoes because that is what I had. I had already peeled and cut them before realizing the recipe said to bake them then soup out the insides.
 6 c. of milk

 Finished Product! Looks and Tastes Delicious.
Walter ate 2 bowls! He loved it. Faelyn ate hers with a little convincing.

Happy Cooking!