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.