Tuesday, October 15, 2013

More adventures!

So our adventures here in Wyoming continue.  Over Labor Day weekend we went out to Flaming Gorge.  This place is awesome!  My brother in law has some jet skiis and we went crazy all day long.

The boys had fun just throwing rocks in the water.  Each of them got a turn on the jet ski and they loved it.  Our first toy purchase when Matt is done with PA school will be a set of jet skis.

The views here are amazing.  Flaming Gorge is huge and on this part of the lake there was not very many people.  We pretty much had the place to ourselves.

The next week Levi and Jax started school.  My babies are getting so big!  Here they are on their first day of school.  They were so stinkin' excited.  Levi was up before everyone else and wanted to go to school right away.  Love that kid!

Levi is doing great in school and loves his teacher.  I had my first parent-teacher conference and he is right on track and where he should be.  Awesome!

Jax loves his pre-school friends and teachers.  He loves going and every day he brings me new pictures he has colored.

It is nice to only have my sweet baby Colten at home during the day.  He loves getting all of my attention and I love giving it to him.

More updates to come...

Friday, October 11, 2013

Crabapple Jelly

Have you heard of crabapples?  They're tiny little apples that are in abundance here.  When I saw the crabapple trees here I instantly remembered my childhood.  My grandparents had a crabapple tree in their back yard.  I remember climbing in that tree and playing all over it.  I would pick the apples and make a pretend stew out of them.  My grandmother would use the apples to make jelly.  Then one year my grandparents cut down that tree.  I don't know why but they did.

So I decided to try my hand at making crabapple jelly.  I was super nervous about making this since I've never done it before.  But after making 3 batches of jelly I would say I'm pretty confident now.

Wanna try this?  Here is what you'll need:

Crabapples (I had 6 pounds of apples for my first two batches)
Cheesecloth or mesh strainer

First, you will need to cut off the stems and blossoms of the crabapples.  Once you have completed that add your crabapples to a pot.  Add in enough water just to cover the apples.  I used a measuring cup and for my first batch I added 8 cups of crabapples.

Bring the apples to a boil.  Turn down the heat, cover, and let the apples boil for 30-40 minutes.  The apples will come apart and change color.  Be sure to stir the apples occasionally.  As you stir you will see the water start to change color.

Put several layers of cheesecloth over a pot.  I used clips to hold the cheesecloth in place.  Pour out the crabapples onto the cheesecloth.  Let all the juice drain through.  This can take a while.  You can let the apples sit over night or 2-4 hours.

Some of the blogs I read said don't squeeze the apples to get more juice out as that can make your jelly cloudy.  After the juice finished draining I wrapped the cheese cloth around the apples and gave them a gentle squeeze.  I made sure not to squeeze too hard so that pulp didn't come through.  I think as long as the pulp doesn't come through you will be fine.

Add the fresh juice to a pot.  My first batch I had 4 cups of juice so I used a measuring cup and poured that in the pot.  Add in your pectin.  I bought the jar of pectin and not a pouch.  If you buy the jar pectin 5 tablespoons equals 1 pouch of pectin.  After adding the pectin bring the juice to a steady boil while stirring constantly.

Turn down the heat and add your 3 cups of sugar.  Bring the juice to a boil again for 1 minute.  Take off the heat and ladle into clean sterile jars.

You can add your jars to a hot water bath but I just turned my jars upside down on a towel.  The heat from the juice will seal your jars.  Leave your jars upside down until they have cooled a bit.  Feel your lid and see if it pops.  When the lid doesn't pop anymore that means it's sealed and you can flip it right side up.

Isn't that just pretty jelly??  I think so!  I went back and made a second batch with the rest of my apples.  Total with 6 pounds of apples I got 5 1/2 jars of jelly.  The half jar is what we used first!

Eat up!!

***For my 3rd batch of jelly I used a steam juicer.  I got 3 cups of juice from that.  Before I added the pectin to my juice I added 1 cup of water.  That way I had the 4-3 ratio (4 cups juice 3 cups sugar).  I added 5 tablespoons of pectin since that equals 1 pouch of pectin.  The 3rd batch made 3 more jars of jelly so now I have 8 jars of crabapple jelly.  This should last us a while!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Martin's Cove

We have been busy over the last month or so here in Wyoming.  We've done many things so I'll just jump right in from the beginning.

Before it turned cold we were able to go to Martin's Cove.  This is an amazing place to visit if you're ever in Wyoming.  There is so much church history here.  Martin's Cove has been on my list of places to visit for a very long time and I can finally check it off.  You can go HERE and read more about this historic site.

When you start to walk the path out to the cove there is a plaque with this quote.  You immediately feel the sacred Spirit that is there.

Baptisms are still performed in this river.  Just around that big rock in the background is the actual cove.  We did not walk out that far.  Our children were not cooperating with us.

This is another part of the path out to Martin's Cove.

The kids did love this part of our trip.  The Visitor's Center has handcarts that you can pull and test out your strength.  Let me tell ya...these are not easy.  Handcarts are very heavy to pull.  And that's when they are empty.  Can you imagine pulling these when they're full of food and goods?

See that split in the rocks over my left shoulder?  That is called Devil's Gate.

You can also walk out to Devil's Gate but again the children didn't allow that to happen.  We did stop on our way back home as the sun was setting.  I snapped this pretty shot.

Part of this trip was to go up to Casper, Wyoming and go to Target.  As we were driving through town we spotted some jaywalkers.

I guess this is a pretty common occurrence in Wyoming!

Matt and I would love to go back without the kids and actually walk out to Devil's Gate and Martin's Cove.  I'm not sure if that will happen but I like to think it will.

Words cannot express to you the gratitude I have for the pioneers.  Someday in Heaven I will bow down to those that gave their life on this trek.  So much sacrifice went into their journey so that my family and all those that came after the pioneers can have our wonderful church.

This was a great fun filled weekend for our family.  We have memories to last a lifetime!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pumpkin Choco-Nut Muffins

Hey ya'll!  We're still surviving in Wyoming.  I thought we were going to get fall weather here but I think Wyoming skipped fall and went straight to winter.  We had about 8 inches of snow on Friday.  I need to do an update post of things we've done over the last month.  That will be coming up soon!

Since it's cold out that means it all things pumpkin!  It's just that time of year.  So first up on my baking list was pumpkin muffins.  I've had this recipe for several years and I have no clue where it came from.  I love it though.  Enjoy!

1 2/3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 cup cooked pumpkin
1/2 cup margarine, melted
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tin with paper muffin cups.  Mix flour, sugar, spices, baking soda, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl;  mix well.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin, and melted margarine.  Blend well.  Add chocolate chips and nuts.  Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until mixed.  Spoon batter into muffin cups.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

We're in Wyoming!

Well hello there!  We've made it to Wyoming alive and in one piece!  I'm dropping in to give you an update on how things are going for us.
We left on a Friday and spread out the drive over 4 days.  We arrived the following Monday and immediately started unpacking all our stuff.  I drove in my car with our boys and Matt drove the Uhaul.  To give me a break from all three kids we would rotate out Levi and Jaxon riding with Matt in the Uhaul.  They loved being with daddy in the "elephant truck" as they called it.  There was an elephant on the Uhaul.
Matt starts school tomorrow and he's excited to get started on more classes.  He has class every day so we are going to miss having him around as much.  But we just have to keep our goal in mind and we'll get through it.  Next week is his last week working remotely for his job in Dallas.  We thought he could last through the end of September but with all that Matt has to do to get into PA school it was just too much.  Matt is registered for the GRE and we're praying that he'll do well the first time.  That test isn't cheap!! 
I'm not going to lie and say this has been easy for me.  I'm really missing home right now.  I miss my house.  I miss my yard.  I miss my friends.  I miss everything about Texas.  I opened my Instagram account recently and one of the last pictures I took was of the boys playing in the sprinklers.  I just started crying because I miss everything so badly.  I'm trying to keep a positive attitude about our situation and I'm trying to make new friends.
That's another thing.  I think I'm a friendly person and I'm not shy by any means.  But making new friends is sometimes hard.  You have to explain your story a million times and it can be difficult to find people that you really jive with.  I want to find people I have stuff in common with and I'm really going to put my best effort forward.  But is it weird that a part of me doesn't want new friends?  Just because I miss my friends at home and they already know me and know my stories and my life and it was just easier.
So I'm really trying and we'll see how it goes over the next few months.
Levi starts school this next week.  I went to register him and I was told that if it gets below 0 degrees that's when the kids will stay inside.  My jaw hit the floor!  0 degrees people!  Holy freakin' cow!  That is a whole different kind of cold.  I think Levi will be the first one to go back inside and gladly sit at his desk.  We also have him registered for soccer here.  The season doesn't last as long in Texas but Levi is for sure ready to get out there and play again. 
Colten hasn't been sleeping well since we got here.  Last week was really hard for all of us in that respect.  At home Colten would sleep perfectly.  He had his own room and loved all the animals on his walls.  We're not sure if he was just scared about being in a new place or if he was teething or what exactly but Colten for sure has had a difficult first week here.  We've let him cry it out the last few nights so hopefully that will make things better for him.  Last night he didn't even cry when he went to sleep.  Maybe we're making progress. 
Jaxon is just excited to have his cousins to play with.  The first few days Jax would say he wanted to go back to our "little house" but we just explained that someone else lives there now.  At Matt's school they have a preschool program for super cheap and so I think we're going to get him enrolled in that.  It will be nice for me to only have 1 child at home.  It has been several years since I've only had 1 kiddo around.  Plus, Jax will be excited to go to school like Daddy and Levi do. 
I still have a few boxes to unpack and go through.  When I'm all finished and have everything set up perfectly I'll so some pictures of the new digs!  5 of us are in 2 bedrooms and sharing 1 bathroom.  I'm using every square foot and maximizing as much storage as possible. 
I miss you all in Texas!  I'll leave you with some pictures I took along the way to Wyoming.
Have an awesome week!
The end of the world! 
Rocky Mountains off in the distance!
The sun after the rain.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Summer smoothie

In case you have been hiding under a rock it's hot!  Like melt your whole body hot!  So who doesn't love a nice cold smoothie when you wake up to 90 degree temperatures? 
Our boys love this smoothie so I'm happy to make it for them.
Here's what you'll need:

1/2 cup milk (Use whatever type you like.  I use 1%.)
8 strawberries with the stems cut off
2 tsp vanilla
1 or 2 tbsp of white sugar (depends on how sweet you want) 
frozen yogurt (I just eyeball the amount of yogurt I use)
ice (optional)
Add all the ingredients in a blender.  Blend until smooth.
This is what you end up with.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Quick Sloppy Joes

I love easy meals that I don't have to really think about.  Especially on nights where I just don't feel like standing in the kitchen over a hot stove.

Sloppy Joes are an easy fix with only a few ingredients.

1 lb hamburger meat
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
hamburger buns
sliced cheese
Brown the meat in a large skillet; drain.
Add barbecue sauce and ketchup; mix well. 
Cook 5 more minutes stirring occasionally.
Spoon mixture onto your hamburger buns.
Top with sliced cheese if desired.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Canton First Monday Trade Days

Canton, Texas!  That's all you need to know.  This place is magical!  Glorious!  Awesome!  I could use a million more words to describe Canton.  Do a search for Canton, Texas and you'll see why this place rocks my world.
It may have been 104 degrees here this last Saturday but I went to my happy place anyway.  I needed to go one last time.  There are so many things to see in this place.  As many times as I've been there are still many parts that I haven't seen. 
I took a few pictures just to give you an idea why so many people love it.
Oh the pretty things.  Any color of glass candy dish you want you can probably find it here.  I usually stop by this vendor every time just to look at all the different colors.  All of the above pictures were taken in the same booth.  If you are in the market for chicken dishes of any size you can find them here.  Another reason this place is so unique. 

The food is just amazing.  You can get everything from a funnel cake to hamburgers to even Mexican and seafood.  I like to go to this one place that is actually air conditioned and the wait isn't usually long.  That hamburger is soooo good.  I don't feel guilty about eating it because usually by the time I leave I've already sweated and walked off lunch. 
"This 7 HP "Economy" gas engine was built and sold by Sears Roebuck in 1915.  Engine has Webster Oscillating Magneto with make and break points and Lunkenheimer Carburetion system.  Engine operates on the hit and miss principal at low idle.  Cost when new: $106.00."
If you walk around long enough, and I'm sure you will, you'll hear this loud popping noise.  As you get closer you'll see it's this funny looking machine that this cute old man runs.  He uses this machine to make fresh cornmeal.  Who would have guessed that?
Furniture is everywhere here.  Any type you need you'll probably find it.  I loved this chair and it was only $30.  I'm totally hating myself for not getting it now.  It was in awesome condition and when I was leaving it was still there. 

Lastly, there are many of these pavilions that you can go visit.  This is where all the boutique type stuff is.  I don't really find a lot in here just because it's usually more expensive stuff.  But still worth checking out.
I'm just barely scratching the surface on everything that is here to see and do.  I'm going to really miss having this place so close.  This is where I like to go to get away and recharge my batteries. 
If you ever in Texas on I-20 be sure to stop by.  You can go HERE to find out more info on all the dates. 
Happy thrifting!!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

It's A Jungle In Here!

Only a little over a week left until we leave for Wyoming.  As it gets closer and closer the more nervous, excited and scared I become.  I'm just one big ball of emotions right now. 

With every child I've tried to create an awesome nursery but it's never really worked out.  I tried to make a sports themed room for Levi.  Flop!  Then with Jaxon I did the jungle animal theme.  Semi-flop.  If I could do it all over again I would have done things completely different.

There was a point in my pregnancy with Colten where we were told that he was going to be a she.  So I had plans to paint this room the color that is now in our laundry room.  Once we found out that the she was really a he, all plans of painting this room were scrapped.  Did you follow that?

I found online some really great and inexpensive rub on designs that are made to look like hand painted murals.  So I picked the jungle theme and during my pregnancy with Jaxon we put them up on the wall. 

This room looks better from where it started but it's not necessarily my favorite. 

Let's look at the before shall we?



These pictures are horrible.  Unless you have a wide angle lens you can't get a full room picture in here. 

When we bought the house the walls were just plain white.  We tried to improve this by painting them a creamy color.  When Levi was an only child we used this room as the guest room also. 

We purchased a new fan and added crown moulding.  You can kinda see the old ugly fan in the above picture.  I'm not even going to try to get a good shot of this room so I'll just show you the one the professional photographer took when we listed our house.

This is a cute room but I'm just not 100% satisfied with it.  I can't do anything about it now since this house is no longer ours but if we have another child I'm going to do my best to give them a perfect nursery. 
Have a great week!

Wall color-Cottage Cream by Sherwin Williams
Wall mural-Tatouage

Sunday, August 4, 2013

My Grandmother's Table

Before we leave I wanted to finish one last furniture project.  It was a total last minute project and I knew I had to finish it quickly or Matt would go crazy. 
In our room in Wyoming we won't have much space.  Matt will need a place to do his school work so I came up with an idea for a desk.  I believe this will fit in our room but we'll see when we get there in a few weeks.
This is my Grandmother's sewing table.  It is very special to me.  I remember when I was younger my cousin and I would play "bank" with this desk.  I would open the door to get the money out and hand it to her.  I love this table and will cherish it forever. 
The sewing machine that was in here weighed a ton!  A while back I plugged in the machine to see if it still worked.  Surprisingly, it did still work but it started to smoke.  I figured that's not good so we took out all the "guts" and now the table is so much lighter. 

I used oil based primer and primed this whole piece.  Sadly, this is not real wood so sanding this wasn't an option.  In the picture I didn't prime the top because I originally thought the top was real wood but later I discovered it wasn't.

After priming the whole table I took out that wood piece that was behind the door.  I wanted to add a place to store the computer or to put papers that Matt needs so I added a shelf here instead.

All the years I've had this table I've always thought the handle was black.  As I was just about to spray paint the handle black I saw a glimmer of something in the light.  So I started scrubbing this handle.  The more I scrubbed the more brass I saw underneath.  After 1 1/2 hours of scrubbing this handle it almost looks new.

So pretty and I love that there still is a little bit of the aged look to the handle.
Are you ready for the final product?
See how gorgeous that handle is with the new paint color?  It's perfect! 
How about a look at the set up?

The piece that the computer is resting on will have support brackets underneath it so that it won't break off when using the computer.  The printer is resting on a platform that I made to cover the hole where the sewing machine folded out.  I painted the platform gold to match the handle.
Oh and the inside looks like this.
I had to cut new support pieces for all four corners and put a new magnet in for the door.  The computer fits perfectly in here.  The basket on the door can hold pens, pencils, or whatever else Matt may need.
I think that my Grandmother would be proud of me and ok that I painted her table.  I love the way this turned out. 
Do you know the best part of this project?  It was all free!  I think that was Matt's favorite part too.  I used everything we had on hand.

Have a great week!  I have another room in our house coming up this week.