Tuesday, August 23

We're Jamming.

I'd forgotten how fast and easy jam making was, until yesterday. I put a couple hours in and made a few batches of jam. Now, the label on the pectin says not to double the batches, but I did with the blueberry and strawberry, and everything jelled just fine. The four little jars are sweet cherry jam, which I'd never made before. All the batches were made with no sugar needed pectin and I greatly reduced the sugar content. I think it makes the cooked jam taste more like the original fruit to omit some sugar.

Now, granted, I had all the fruit ready to go - the strawberries were cleaned and frozen a month or so ago - I seriously lacked energy to do anything with them, plus we had no sugar (or fruit juice concentrate) which always puts a damper on jam making!

The cherries were salvaged from sure spoilage and frozen 2 weeks ago and the blueberries - I'm surprised they lasted - had been in a stock pot in our fridge for about 3 weeks. I had to sort through them again and wash them but they were champs. I think I lost about 25 berries total, which I can handle!

So, now I have all these jars of yummy jam to eat and share with neighbors. Two houses on our street have been purchase in the last month or so and I'm very excited about meeting the new families and saying "welcome to the neighborhood" with a jar of jam.

The best part? The only thing I paid for was the blueberries, new lids, and sugar. I already had or was given everything else. WOO HOO!

Monday, August 22

Homemade Electrolyte Drink

So I've been a little dehydrated lately, evidenced by my swollen ankles...and although I love Recharge, it's not exactly reasonably priced on Amazon at the moment, nor is it available locally to me (since Kroger quit carrying it). So I got out my old "recipe" and tweaked it further.

1 quart Juicy Juice Kiwi-Strawberry (we had this on hand but any juice would work)
2 quarts water
1/4 tsp real salt
1/4 tsp 100% stevia extract

and, tada! a tasty, hydrating, electrolyte-replacing beverage that is easier to come by, and slightly more effective for this pregnant lady than plain water.

BTW, I did a nutritional analysis on my recipe and compared it to Recharge.

My recipe, per 8oz:
Calories - 40
Sodium - 54mg
Potassium - 76.8mg
Carbohydrate - 10g
Sugar 8.7g
Vitamin C - 40% RDA
trace amts of other minerals

Recharge, Orange, per 8 oz:
Calories - 70
Sodium - 25mg
Potassium - 60mg
Carbohydrate - 18g
Sugar -17g
Vitamin A - 30% RDA
Vitamin C - 6% RDA

Friday, August 19

just like the boy scouts.

So, Evan surprised us by coming early - at our garage sale, as you know. We were throwing baby clothes in the washing machine while I was in labor - they came out of the dryer just-in-the-nick-of-time and Michael made a run to Walgreens for the home birth supplies when I was finally convinced it was really labor. We were definitely unprepared.

This time is different. I'm more prepared, so I'll probably be pregnant until September 20. Ha ha.

Freezer cooking is well underway! Here are some meals I am making:

Marinated Chicken - so easy! I just trimmed up the chicken and threw it in the bag with the marinade mix. We can either grill it or bake it later. Flavors: Cilantro-Lime (olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, salt, pepper), Savory Marinade (it's a new and different combo I've never tried before),
Italian (with homemade italian dressing, yum)

Chicken and Rosemary Roasted Vegetables (er, minus the rosemary, which is not my favorite flavor. The veggie blend has potatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots, and onions in there with chunks of chicken, olive oil, and some seasonings)

Chicken Leg Quarters - these were 59cents/lb this week so I bought the ten pound bag to divide up with salt, pepper, olive oil - or some italian seasonings - and they'll be set to thaw and throw in a pan. yay.
Pre-seasoned burger patties (to grill!)

And the stuff that actually requires me to cook it before freezing:
Chicken taco filling (cooks in the crock pot - tomorrow's job for crock pot #1)
Shredded pork for BBQ pork sandwiches (in the crock pot #1 now!)
Shredded Qdoba-style pork (in the crock pot #2!)
Pre-cooked meatballs (yay, shortcut!)
Pre-cooked taco meat
Filling for stuffed bell peppers that we are sure to keep getting via our CSA
Minestrone soup - lots of veggies!
Possibly some chicken/rice soup - we shall see!

And some sides:
Brown rice
White rice
Cheesy potatoes
Cilantro-lime rice
Possibly some pre-made mashed potatoes - we shall see on this one, too.

I also bought some zip n steam bags for veggies we'll get in our CSA boxes - have you tried zip n steam bags? They are so, so cool. I almost always pack fresh veggies in them when I take a meal to someone - they go in the microwave and presto! Plus, I don't have to worry about keeping veggies hot for whomever is infirmed.

I'm about halfway done with today's work. I have been taking lots of breaks. That, and the beef isn't quite thawed yet. (here it is, thawing in our utility sink with my shortcut potatoes) Hopefully I can finish up tomorrow and we'll be set for a month- if I can keep out of the freezer until the baby actually comes, that is. I'm excited to report that I spent under $150 on the stuff I needed to make all those meals - yay! That includes two jumbo packs of paper plates and some extra foil pans and freezer bags, along with some extra pantry/ staple items (bread for the freezer, etc) but if you divide it out, it is a little over $3 for each main course for 40 days. Better than paying takeout prices for sure. Of course, the beef (and some ground pork) was all in my freezer, so it probably does come out to more than that per meal, although I do have extras of certain things I bought. Most of the veggies are from the CSA, which I also get for free from the farmer for making the trip and bringing in business for him.

In other news, I finally renewed my driver's license today. And, I've been having more Braxton Hicks contractions than usual, along with increased discomfort. I'm not totally disappointed with that. But like I said, I'm more prepared, so...

I might get those 3 varieties of jam made yet!

Wednesday, August 17


1. Aaron turned 5 two weeks ago. Evan turned 3 Monday. Last night at dinner, Aaron asked whose birthday was next, and whilst I was racking my brain to see which family member's birthday was next, Michael said, "our new baby" and I about spit out my water. Oh, yeah, that is coming up soon, isn't it?!

2. Saturday will mark 37 weeks of pregnancy. On that note, I've never felt "READY!" to have a pregnancy be over. I've always felt that gestation was the easiest time to be a parent. This time is much different, just the way I'm carrying this baby. Lots of pain and discomfort, but it will be worth it. And, I now have cankles. So come Saturday, I will be delivering (heh, heh) an eviction notice to the child within.

3. I am now taking guesses for birth date, size, and gender of our baby. The winner will get something. My due date is 9/10/11.

4. I love summer produce, but right now it is overtaking my kitchen and my life. I have 3 kinds of jam to make, this week. I can't find my jam jars, despite my empty garage. I was going to cook up a storm this week and next to fill the freezer with precooked meals for post-baby family nourishment, but it's full of berries to make jam. And the clutter around here is getting worse, not better. I need a personal assistant.

5. The TV Karts at Meijer are SO not worth the extra $1. It ended up that I paid more for a headache that could have been avoided by just getting a normal cart. The spelling error should have tipped me off. Someday I will learn. At least the $1 goes to a good cause.

6. Michael and I had a great weekend away last weekend. We were going to go up north but decided to go shop at IKEA instead. We slept, we ate out, we shopped. We slept IN until 9:40. Now that was bliss. And then we shopped again and just enjoyed not having to think about nap time or sippy cups or potty stops for 24 hours. Thanks, mom & dad. It was so nice to get away.

7. Speaking of potty stops, it's Evan's turn to potty train. Oh, dear. He's got it about 2/3 of the time. When I remember to remind him. Oh, dear.

That's it. Now, please excuse me. I have some nesting to do.

Thursday, August 11

Giveaway Winner!

My Happy Birthday giveaway ended this past Monday, but in the excitement of Michael's sister visiting and the activities we did this week, I neglected to post the winner!

Random.org selected comment #22 - Rachel! Hurray! Congratulations!

And thanks, everybody, for all the birthday wishes and delicious ice cream flavor ideas. YUMMY!

My favorite, by the way, is a local flavor called Spring Break - it's toasted coconut in coconut ice cream with thin chocolate pieces sprinkled throughout. It is delicious!! And it just so happens to be what is pictured above - an entire "cake" made just for me, of ice cream only, my lucky day.

I do have to be honest - when it comes to ice cream, I'm pretty much up to trying anything.

Tuesday, August 2


It's my birthday. I'm 32 today. And for the last couple of years I've made a huge hairy deal about it, written a oft-drafted post, given away virtual cake, and done a real life giveaway.

This year, I'm exhausted. I stayed up a little too late a couple nights in a row, and I'm pregnant, and it's humid. So, no great creative post. However, if you want to, you can scoop a bowl of ice cream and eat it in my honor. I will take your extra calories, if you feel the need to bestow them on me.

But, still, I can't resist doing a giveaway.

The only thing is, I'm a sucker for surprises. So, I'm not telling you what the little birthday package is this year, in honor of the unknown-on-purpose gender of our new little addition coming very soon.

I will give hints:
1. there will be something Pampered Chef in there. of course.
2. there may or may not be some reading material involved.
3. there may or may not be something delicious included.
4. you will like it.
5. if you don't, you will be able to give it to someone who does.

And now, in order to be entered to win my annual birthday giveaway, you must first have a US mailing address. Then, you must do a happy birthday song and dance. I will go with the honor system on this one, unless you feel this simply will not do and just have to set up a video chat.

Then post a comment here (on the blog, not just on FB) telling me your favorite ice cream flavor(s) and how many scoops you typically eat. I know, they seem unrelated, the task and the comment.

I can be random like that.

Giveaway ends next Tuesday!