Thursday, September 30, 2010

October's Cheapest Fruits and Vegetables

How are you doing eating seasonally?  It has changed the way that we eat in that we've been challenged to try so many new things.  I've always tried to eat what's cheapest, but still have splurged when I wanted to.  And while that's ok, this challenge has kept me on my toes by making me try new things, search out new recipes, and work to make this bounty nutritious.  It's been a great experiment.

So without further adu, here's this month's Cheapest Fruits and Vegetables:
Sweet Potatoes
Winter Squash

If you haven't tried the Spinach Calazone yet, you have to put it on your menu this month.  We have it at least twice a month.  We love it.  We often use frozen spinach, but since it's in season now, I keep thinking how great this would be with fresh spinach.

And if you like raw spinach (we do), try a spinach salad with slivered almonds, dried cranberries, chopped apples, and blueberry pomegranate dressing by Lighthouse.  Refreshing and so fall.

I'll be stocking up on cranberries in the coming months and making tons of Cranberry Applesauce.  This recipe is incredible and you'll never go back to plain canned cranberry sauce again.

I picked up an acorn squash this week for $.38.  Can you believe it?  What can you get for $.38?  I'll cut that open and stuff it with a savory tomato hamburger filling and bake it.  The recipe will be up when I get that one done.

I love sweet potatoes, but without all the marshmallow craziness.  Baked, topped with a little butter, a smiggin' of brown sugar, some chopped walnuts or slivered almonds, a little dried cranberries,... yummy twist on the old baked potato bar when served with a green salad.

And how can you go wrong with pumpkins?  I have a true love for all things pumpkin: pudding, bread, muffins, lattes, cookies... I'll be posting pumpkin recipes all month.  So stay tuned.

How is your family eating seasonally?  Share some ideas and recipes with us!

*Linked to Frugal Friday

Getting to Know You

... getting to know all about you...

Do I have that song stuck in your head yet?  I love that one.  The King and I is one of my favorites and the kids and I have been watching a cartoon version this week.  Very fun!

Found a fun Meme to play along with this morning at:

Care to join me?

What was the first car you drove?
I learned to drive on my Grandma's '91 Toyota Corolla.  That car has a lot of memories and has lasted forever.  In fact it became mine in '97 and we just sold it this past Christmas.  Still going strong!

Who is your favorite author?
Oh, love them all.  John Grisham, Philip Yancey, Nicholas Sparks, ... I love reading.  My Book List this year has been out of control.

Do you collect anything?  If so, what?
Do craft supplies count?  Pictures?  

What is your favorite vacation destination?
Well, we love Disneyland.  But we also love our annual trip to the beach.  The kids love the ocean.

What's your favorite season?  What do you like about it?
I used to say summer.  And I still love my summers.  But fall has become my favorite season.  It's getting back to the comfort foods, good books, and snuggling by the fire.  It's pumpkin season, warm sweaters, and changing leaves.  It's cooler nights on the back patio, new school pencils, and new friends. 

What song could you listen to over and over again and never tire of it?
Oh, most country songs.  I love my  country music.  Most Hillsong music.  I love How Great Is Our God.  Old school, but so powerful.  Especially with my two year old singing it next to me.

What fast food restaurant is your favorite?
We love In and Out.  Or as my kids fondly refer to it: The Yellow Arrow!

Is there any one thing in life that you still long to do?
Grow our family 
See women use their story for God's glory

What makes you sad?
Bad Mommy Days... the ones where there's too much fighting and not enough hugging

When you look back over your life so far, what one perfect day stands out in your mind?
The days that both of my kids were born.  I've seen life in a whole new way ever since.

Who is your favorite person to be with?
Besides family... love spending time with old college friends.

Do you keep or tell secrets?
I'm a secret keeper.  Very mysterious and super trustworthy.  Loyal to the core.

What kind of music do you listen to the most?
Christian and Country... sometimes conflicting, but true loves.

Eggs and bacon or french toast and waffles?
Bacon, hashbrowns, and biscuits and gravy... hold the eggs.

If you had one idea to share with the world, what would it be?
Use your story for God.  Your circumstances are not by change and not without purpose.  He can take evil and turn it for his good.  

Wanna play?
Let me know if you answer,
so I can get to know you better too.

A Touch of Fall

September's been such a busy month.  Three out of four weekends we were camping or visiting family or at a retreat.  It was just crazy.  Add on top getting back into the school routine, the blogging routine, and planning a birthday party and you've got one frazzled mama.

So I've been a little behind on the Autumn crafts and just finished up two small projects I've had sitting patiently on my list.  Remember the block set I've been working on?  Well, Autumn is done.  What do you think?  Simple, but I really like them.

And the Autumn banner... don't you just love the patterned paper?  It was one clearance at Jo-ann's last week.  I paid $.25/sheet and it's glittered.  So cute!

I probably won't do much more than this.  My wreath is up.  We'll go get pumpkins the weekend of Noah's birthday and I'll put out my scarecrow.  Oh, and the baking... my cupboard looks like a pumpkin canning factory threw up in it.  Pumpkin... my favorite baking season of the year.

How are you welcoming fall in your home?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

52 First Dates: Week Sixteen

Well, I bet you had some interesting conversations last week.  What kind of spiritual legacy do you want to leave behind?  I think this is one of those conversations you have to have.  People grow and change and have their world view rocked so much in their lives.  And it affects their marriages.  If you're not having these deep conversations now and again, problems are bound to sneak up on you.  And you'll begin to wonder, just who this person is that you're married to.  Plus it's built in accountability and support when you're asking the questions "What are you being called to?"

Dave and I have these conversations often, but posing the question, "What spiritual legacy are we leaving behind?", that's a whole other story.  We want to raise healthy kids who love God and love his people.  We want to embrace how ever God would grow our family.  We want to lead people to Christ.  We want to be productive members in our community and not hide inside our four walls.  And this looks like a variety of things.  Some really scary.  And some so comfortable that we find ourselves charging ahead.  Either way, having this conversation shows each of us how we can support the other and encourage what God is doing in us.  I love this exercise.

This week:

Let's bring out our artistic side.  I have two ideas that keep roaming around in my head and I can't seem to decide which one I want to do.  So I'll throw both of them out there and you can decide what you want to do.

First I was thinking about drawing pictures of each other.  No, I am not an accomplished artist and that's what I think would make this date so much fun.  I know that neither of our portraits would come out masterpieces, but it's fun and silly.  And how often do you spend that long looking at each other?  What a fun excuse to just spend time looking into each others eyes.

The second idea would be to just get the art supplies out and create something together.  Scissors, glue, tape, glitter, markers,... finger paints... finger paints are very sensual.  Create something together.  There's something beautiful about two people creating together.  It's intimate.

So what will you choose?  Are you enjoying the 52 First Dates?  What are you learning about your spouse?

And don't forget to check out this month's Rhythms of Grace.  Truly inspiring.

*Linked to Works for Me Wednesday and these Parties.

Be Still and Know

This past weekend, I was blessed to help organize and attend the annual Women's Retreat through my church.  Our theme this year was "Be Still and Know that I am God" taken from Psalm 46:10.  Being still isn't something that I'm very good at.  Multi-tasking and doing 10 things at a time... now that's something that I'm good at!  And knowing... really knowing... in the heart of hearts... knowing to the core... that's a struggle as well.  So in  a lot of ways, this theme seemed to be built with me in mind.

 *Kristen speaking

 *Lounging at the pool

 *Cyndi speaking

 *Michelle speaking

 *spontaneous baptism

*Group shot

We had three fantastic women speak from our church.  I love being able to see everyday women use their gifts and their stories for God's glory.  We all have a story and we can chose to use it or keep it a secret.  And personally, I love seeing women give glory to God through their stories.

Food was fantastic, friends had time to talk, and memories and laughter abounded.  I had one gal tell me on Sunday, that she was already looking forward to next year.  In a way so am I.  But for right now, I'm really looking forward to the aftershocks of this retreat.  Where will these women go in light of how they've been challenged this weekend?  As one woman put it, "Are we doing this (following Jesus) or not?"  Guess I could turn it around on all of us... Are we doing this or not?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Made by Me Monday

Sorry gang, 
It's been one of those mornings.  School drop-off, gym time, groceries, pick up, and making lunch... keeps me busy for the whole morning.  

We had a busy weekend and for that matter, a busy week.  This past weekend was our church's annual Woman's Retreat.  This is the sixth year I've attended and it's always such a  blessing to get away with these women for three days of food, fellowship, and growth.  Nights were filled with worship, speakers, and conversation.  Days were filled with small groups, messages, and swimming.  Truthfully, the time always goes all too quickly.  

Needless to say, last week was very busy.  We were finalizing the million details that go into planning a retreat.  I felt like my phone was ringing off the hook Friday morning.  I"d get off one call just in time to answer another.  Crazy, crazy, crazy!

So I don't have anything super creative to share with you today.  As the weeks wear on, I'll be sharing some retreat planning resources and I'm also finishing up some creative projects I started last week, but nothing is finished today.  I have some fun posts for the rest of the week, but for now you're on your own.  And I can't wait to see what you've been up to.

Oh, and be sure to check out this post from last week: Fall Decor @ Dittle Dattle.  So, so cute.  Thanks so much for linking up!  I love it!

Show us those projects.  Write a blog post highlighting your project with a link back so that others can join in on the fun.  Then link up below to the blog post itself.  You can post more than one project; just add more than one link.  I'll be picking one of your projects to highlight next week.  So start linking up!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Family Book

On Made by Me Monday this week, I promised I'd give you a closer look into these "Family Books" I've made for the kids.  Since our family lives so far away, it was important to me that our kids have some familiarity with them when they visit.  At the very least to have a face that goes with the name.  And these little books have opened up hours of conversation centered around family, love, traditions, and reliving memories.

I got ahold of some blank board books from Oriental Trading company.  If you'd like to be even more frugal, shop your local thrift store or yard sales for used board books.  They can easily be recovered as well.

I found with the boughten books that the pages weren't a standard size.  So although I measured twice and cut once, some of my pages would be short on an edge or two.  That's fixable and we'll get to it later.  But if it truly bothers you, you're going to want to measure every page to make sure you get a perfect fit.

I cut my papers and modge podged them to each page.  You'll have to do this project over the course of several days as each set of pages has to fully dry before moving on.  Make sure you're drying your pages with the book open.

After the pages dried, I laid out the order of the pages.  Mommy and Daddy first, sibling and a special cousin, Grandma and Great-Grandma, Nana and Papa, and several pages of Aunts and Uncles.  Since my kids don't have a lot of cousins yet, that was our list.  Just brainstorm and come up with the major family members that you want your kids to remember.

On each page, I printed a picture and matted it in a coordinating color.  Then cut out letters with my Cricut.  The picture and matte were adhered with scrapbooking tabs, the letters with a Xyron tape, and the ribbon and flower with glue dots.  I also traced around the letters and matting with a coordinating pen to make them really stand out.  The ribbon was used as a decorative element to cover when the pages were mis-sized.  Any cut little decorative element adds a special touch.

Finally I modge podged the entire page again to seal it.  Again, allow the pages to dry thoroughly and leave the book open to prevent sticking.  Sealing the entire book is a great idea, especially if you're giving it to a small child who will be handling it a lot.  These books go everywhere with my kids and I have yet to have something fall out of them.

I'd love to see what other ideas you come up with using these little books.  What special memorabilia would you create?

* Linked to these Parties

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Boy and His Frogs

I deserve Mother of the Year for this!
*Linked to Wordless Wednesday

52 First Dates: Week Fifteen

Hello guys and gals,
How was your date last week?  Did you plan an indoor picnic for you and your love?
We did!  My husband got off work early one night this week.  We have had a really rough week with family issues and I knew we both really needed this date.  So on the night he got off early, I jut planned to bake some chocolate chip cookies for him and pour a tall glass of milk.  He didn't know what I was planning so I think it was a nice surprise for him to come home and just spend some time together.  It was nice for me too.  :-)

Were you able to have a date night last week?  How did it go?

This week's challenge:
Discuss with your spouse what kind of spiritual legacy you want to leave.  Maybe you believe in God; maybe you don't.  Maybe you believe in Karma or Allah or THE Universe.  No matter what you believe in, you are leaving a spiritual legacy whether you realize it or not.  The way you live your life, the way you speak to your spouse or your kids or your co-workers, the things you do every day... speak volumes about what you think is important.  Be it money or relationships or image or... whatever.  You're leaving a legacy.

This might be a tough conversation to have ... and that's the point.  Fun dates are fun and they built memories that connect us.  But every once in awhile we need to have these conversations.  These are the conversations that are going to cement a marriage.  I know personally that if it wasn't for our continuing commitment to following Christ, our marriage would have no basis.  These are the conversations that make all our marriages deeper.  These are the conversations that connect us.

So whatever your legacy may be... lay it out there.  Be honest!  Share your heart with your spouse!  What do you want to be remembered for?  What's your spiritual legacy?  And if you don't believe in God, this conversation still applies to you.  Is your legacy to be a great parent?  Is your legacy to live generously in your relationships?  Is your legacy to be a driving force in your community?  What is your spiritual legacy?

Let us know how your dates are going.  What are you learning about each other?  Is your relationship deepening?  What's changing?

*Linked to these Parties
*Don't forget to link up to Made by Me Monday

What are you being called to?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Made by Me Monday

Crazy, crazy days around here.  As I sit, it's Sunday afternoon (letting out my secret here) and it's a drizzly rain day.  I'm loving it 'cause it's the first real chance I've had to sit in awhile.  And on a rainy day like this, I don't feel all that guilty about not being more "productive."

We went camping this weekend with my son's school and had a great time.  One of the many reasons we chose the school was for the sense of community.  We had a great time meeting other families and seeing our son engage with his classmates.  And the family bond time it provided was invaluable.

I thought I'd share a little project I made for both of my kids over the years.  Most of our family lives far away and it was important for both my husband and I to give them a sense of family.  So they both have these family books personalized with pictures of them.

Pretty cute, huh?  I'll share more details later this week on how you can make one of your own.

Also, here's a favorite project from last week's Made by Me Monday:

Looks wonderful!

So show us those projects. Write a blog post highlighting your project with a link back so that others can join in on the fun. Then link up below to the blog post itself. You can post more than one project just add more than one link. And this week, I'll be picking one of your ideas to highlight on next week's Made by Me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lee's To Do List

We've gotta make one of these Personalized Family Signs soon (@ Three Men and A Lady).  She makes it look so easy.

Lydia would love to add this Eggplant and Spinach Lasagna (@ Treasure for Tots) to her felt food collection.  Makes me think back to last year's project.

I wish I could find some cute scrabble tiles to make some of these Tile Pendants (@ Tidy Nest).  It's never too early to start thinking about Christmas presents.

Boston Cream Cake is a favorite of mine so I'm determined to try out these Boston Cream Cupcakes (@ Made by Stephanie).  Look yummy!

We've been making a lot of these Cranberry Oatmeal bars (@ Calorie Count) lately.  They are a great addition to the lunch box and very filling.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Spinach Calazone

Mama said there'd be days like this...

There have been quite a few days lately were the thought of getting a semi-nutritious, tasty meal on the table seems next to impossible.  Days were I'm hurdling over baby dolls and cranky cats to keep the pot from boiling over all while I'm signing off homework slips minutes before rushing out the door to Back to School night.  Where are those glorious hours of nothing to do that I was promised would come when Noah started school?

This is one of those recipes I keep around for nights like those.  It's quick, is only in the oven for 10 minutes, yummy healthy, and still makes a great date night meal.  Enjoy!

Spinach Calazone

1 (10oz) pkg frozen spinach, cooked according to directions (extra time? buy fresh in season)
1 1/2 c. Swiss Cheese (I sub what I have in the fridge, but a white cheese is best)
1/2 c. Ricotta cheese
1 green onion, sliced (we use 2-3)
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1 (10 oz) tube refrigerated pizza crust
1 egg white
1 tsp water
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
Pizza sauce, warmed

Cook spinach according to direction; drain well.  Combine spinach, Swiss and ricotta cheeses, onion bail, salt, and pepper.  Roll pizza dough into 15x10 rectangle.  If you want to be fancy you can cut out 6 squares.  But I make one big calazone to slice.  Fill with spinach mixture.  Brush edges of dough with water to close and seal.  Crimp edges with a fork.  Place on a baking sheet coated with nonstick spray.  Beat egg white and water; brush over dough.  Prick top with fork and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake @ 425 degrees for 10 min or until golden.  Let stand for 5 min.  Serve with salad and pizza sauce.

What are your standby meals for those crazy nights?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

52 First Dates: Week Fourteen

How are your dates going?  Do you feel like you're reconnecting with your mate?  I know for us, being the parent of two small kids, it's hard to come out of the world of parenthood and playdates and homework and gymnastics class.  These dates have been a way not only for us to reconnect, but also for us to reconnect with ourselves.  If I can make time for classes and the library and volunteering in my kids' class, then why can't I also make time for my husband?

So are you ready for this one?  Why don't you have dinner with your husband?  But don't go out... make this an at home date.  And let's go all out.  Pick up the living room, lay out a picnic blanket, and have an indoor picnic.  You can do full out dinner or just appetizers and drinks.  My husband works late so I'll probably do small bites and drinks.

Home dinners are just fun for me.  It's a different environment, it's more comfortable, but the whole picnic things gets you off the couch.  You can cook, you can order take out, you can hit the freezer section at the grocery store.  Go with your personality.  Find a new food you've both always wanted to try.  Maybe there's somewhere you've wanted to traveled to.  Use that as inspiration when choosing your menu.  Pop a good bottle of wine.  Put the kids to bed and chose your attire appropriately.

Wanna set the mood further?  Pick out some music, light the candles, choose finger foods, and all parenting talk is off limits.  Work talk can be limited, but for the most part stick to what going on in each other's heads.  He can't read your mind and you can't read his so clue each other in.

Let us know how it's going.  Are you learning new things about your spouse?  Give us any great tips you've come across in the past weeks.

*Linked to these Parties.

Rhythms of Grace: Journeying in Loss and Hope

Over the past few months, I've been talking about starting this Rhythms of Grace series based on Matt 11:28-30 (found in the Message):

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burnt out on religion? Come to me.  Get away with me and I'll recover your life.  I'll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced Rhythms of Grace.  I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

As I was first thinking through this verse, I came into contact with an old college friend.  We started talking about where our lives had taken us and she was sharing with me her journey.  I was immediately struck by the fact that God wanted to use her story.  

Debbie graciously agreed to share with all of you what these past couple of years have looked like for her and how her faith in God has only been strengthened.  I hope you'll be as challenged and blessed as I have been.


Picture this... three people standing in the kitchen together, a mom, her daughter and son in law all crying as they count down to the new year, 2010. Why are they crying? Hope! Seems a little odd right? Only God can make three people who have been through so much still have hope.

You see 2009 was a very rough year. Just one year earlier as this family was counting down to the new year of 2009 all seemed to be going well. Then within four months of that night three family members were diagnosed with cancer, all with very different outcomes.

The first was my dad. I am the daughter in this situation,the son in law is my husband, and the mom...well she is mine too. She was visiting me on January 2nd when we got the call that my dad had been in a head on collision and was in the hospital. He was doing fine except he had a broken sternum and in the process of doing the body scan they found a tumor in his kidney. More tests were run and the tumor was found to be cancerous. This was a relatively easy form of cancer to deal with but we had to wait six weeks for his sternum to heal. This turned out to be a huge blessing. We did not yet know God had already planned to take my dad home on the day after his surgery, February 18th. Because he had to "heal," we spent that six weeks just spending time with him. We had a family picture taken with my parents and in laws and my parents took a very special trip "just in case". I don't believe in coincidence. I know that God told us to do these things... luckily we listened. 

The second family member to be diagnosed with cancer was my father in law. On January 8th he was diagnosed with Lymphoma. This cancer, we later found, tends to be very lethal in adult men. Because of circumstances that led to his diagnoses, my father in law and mother in law missed Christmas with us. They decided before he started his chemo they would come see us "just in case". That is why they were here to have a family picture taken and also enjoy the last few days of my dads life with us. 

Between the time that my father in law was diagnosed and the time he was suppose to start his chemo treatments he was at a healing service and had the pastor anoint him with oil. When he went to start his treatment the doctor tested his blood again and the cancer was no where to be found. The doctor obviously thought that there had been a misdiagnosis so he had the blood in my father in laws spleen tested again (it had been removed at Christmas time and the cancer was found there.) It turns out that the cancer cells were still in the spleen but there were none to be found in his body. God still does miracles and we know this to be true. 

The third diagnosis was our son. He was three years old when he was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia, a little over a month after the death of his grandpa. The success rate in curing this in young boys is 90-95% with chemo treatments. He is right on track with where the doctors want him to be as of now. During 2009 he had four 12-17 day hospital stays due to infections and his immune system being completely shot. We are so grateful that God has given people the knowledge to handle these types of illness. If it is Gods plan, he will finish his treatments in 2012. 

To add just one more bump in the road, two days before our son was diagnosed with Leukemia our two year old daughter tried to be a big girl and jump from the swing while I was pushing her. She broke her femur and had to be in a Spica cast (from her chest to toe on one leg and to her knee on the other) for 5 weeks.

Many people have asked us how we made it through this still standing? The only answer I could give them was "GOD"!!! We knew through out the year no matter what happened he had every situation in his hand and each and every outcome was a part of his plan. Was it easy? NO!!!!!! But with the comfort we had in our biological  his hand every day and keep our joy in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Christian music is also very important to us. Whenever I was feeling down or like I could not keep going I would listen to the radio and God seemed to give me just what I needed. One day I was driving and I heard a song by Mercy Me and the lyrics just seemed to fit my life as if they wrote the song just for me. I will not write out the whole song but to chorus goes like this..

"Bring me joy, bring me peace, bring the chance to be free bring me ANYTHING that brings you glory. For I know there will be days when this life brings me pain but if that's what it take to praise you, Jesus bring the rain."

He never promised us that our lives would be easy, but he did promise us that he would never leave us. I can find hope in that.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Made by Me Monday

Hey gang,
Sorry it took me awhile to get this up today.  Our morning was busy with school drop off, the gym, groceries and lunch.  Till ooops,.. I realized I hadn't posted a MBM Monday for ya.  Sorry

This was the project I was working on this weekend.  Do you like it?

Actually I had several other projects planned as well, but they were quickly halted after I burned myself on the hot glue gun.  Nasty thing!  But I like the way this came out and since I've been shopping at the dollar store, it only cost me $5 with plenty of ribbon left over.  Makes me excited to get my scarecrow out and buy some pumpkins.

And you have to check out this sweater to cardigan make over.  It was part of the link up last week and I'm wondering why I didn't think of it.  Very clever!

So what have you been creating lately?  Show us those projects.  Write a blog post highlighting those ideas with a link back here so that others can join in on the fun.  Then link below to the blog post itself.  You can post more than one project; just add more than on link.  Stay tuned next week and I'll highlight one of your projects to share as well.

Have fun!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Blackberry Pickin' and Blackberry Cobbler

Well, y'all, here's that long awaited blackberry cobbler recipe.  Thanks for understanding that I just needed a quick break to refresh.  Even just giving myself permission to vent for the day was rejuvenating.  I didn't realize how crazy this week was going to be and it just quickly caught up with me.  But I feel much better now and can't wait to share this cobbler with you.

I grew up in a home where living off the land really wasn't a foreign thought.  We still had grocery stores and convenience food.  But my upbringing also included fresh baked bread, fresh from the garden veggies in the summer, and wild game in the fall.  It was a life unlike many of my peers today and for that matter, I still have friends that will often look at me with a sideways glance.  I've gotten pretty used to it.

So truthfully blackberry pickin' has remained a stable in our lives.  Although we are separated from the berry patch by a three hours and a few hundred grocery stores, there's nothing like warm blackberries straight from the vine.  The kids and I still try to plan an escape to Grandma's house during prime blackberry season in Aug.

This year we weren't quite so lucky.  Noah started Kindergarten and due to some poor planning on my part, we weren't able to make it during the best part of the season.  In fact, when we finally did make it to Grandma's house last weekend, the blackberries were looking pretty few and far between.  Still my mom had picked and canned earlier in the summer and there were just enough for us to fill our bowls and stain our faces.

Most years, the majority of the crop goes into jelly.  In fact, my kids probably wouldn't know what to do with their peanut butter sandwiches if they didn't have blackberry jelly or apple butter.  We make it all count and jelly is something we run through quickly around here.

My there's also cobbler.  Blackberry cobbler is a favorite family treat as far back as I can remember and this year my home came up with her quick and easy way to get it on the table.

Canned Blackberry Cobbler Mix

Approx 5 c. berries
1/4 c. water
1 1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
2 Tbsp lemon juice

1. Combine water, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice in a large, heavy pan and slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly to avoid the cornstarch from lumping.  

2. Add berries and bring to a boil.  Boil for 5 min, stirring constantly.

3. Put in jars and water bath at 212 degrees for 30 min.  Yield: 1 quart

*If you don't want to jar your mix, just pour the liquid into the pan here.  But be careful.  Blackberries cook very hot and will stick and burn your skin.  Always pour with caution.

When you're ready to make your cobbler, pour into pan and top with biscuit mix.  If you'd like to make from scratch, I'm sure you could search the web and find something.  But for me, I find that using Bisquick is just as yummy and a whole lot quicker.  

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do.  For me, it's a summer memory in a jar.  Nutritious, healthy, frugal... does it get any better than that?  Love it!

Other links you might be interested in:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Diary of a Weary Mom

I'm tired!

No ... REALLY tired!

I've heard moms say that the older your kids get, the crazier your schedule becomes.  There are times I laugh.  Maybe not out loud, but there's a chuckle nonetheless.  How could their lives possibly be any crazier than mine?

There's no baby nursing.  No toddler potty training.  No preschooler into the fingerpaints for the umpteenth time despite the fact that Mommy has threatened things that she can't possibly carry out for fear of a visit from CPS.  (Not that I have personal knowledge of that scenario)

I was wrong...

In the past few weeks, I've been running from school drop off to school pick up to back to school to.... all the other activities that fill our lives.  Gym, visiting family, women's retreat meetings, laundry, cat, a little bit of homeschooling....

I am not a perfect blogger behind the computer screen.  I guess if you've been reading for any time you probably know that.  Probably better than I do.

My make up and hair aren't always done.  I live in my t-shirts and jeans.  My house looks like there's been a nuclear explosion.  My diet has done by the wayside.  My kids watched part of a movie today while I hid in the kitchen making dinner.

I'm tired!

So the cobbler recipe will be up soon, even if it's midnight Sat.  But for now, I'm unplugging for the day.  Catching up on laundry, visiting with a few gals, getting some retreat stuff done, and probably working on something creative.  Oh, and definately some time in my own room with the door closed.  Silence, pure silence!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

52 First Dates: Week Thirteen

Wow!  Can you believe we've been through 3 months of date nights?  This is a great challenge and I'm so excited to be on this journey with you.  My husband and I are having a lot of fun with it and we hope you are too.

Gonna give you an easy week this week.  Go back and choose one of the weeks you missed or would like to repeat.  I know we've had our favorites and are excited to repeat a few.  Here they are:

Week One: Couch Time
Week Two: Ice Cream Taste Off
Week Three: Be a Tourist in your own Town
Week Four: Board Games
Week Five: Comedy Night
Week Six: Date Night Inventory
Week Seven: Freebie/ Your Choice
Week Eight: Take a Walk
Week Nine: Photo Albums
Week Ten: Bucket List
Week Eleven: First Words
Week Twelve: Love Letters

So how is your dating life going?  Be sure to leave us a message and let us know.  Also feel free to share any activities you did on Week Seven.

*Linked to these Parties.
*Linked to Weekend Bloggy Reading

We have a Winner, folks!

I ran the number through and ...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Made by Me Monday

Well, gang, we're still enjoying the Labor Day weekend so I'm going to keep this one short and sweet.  We had planned on coming back home today, but due to work schedule changes and a tempermental car, we'll be coming home tomorrow.  But I didn't want to cheap you on a chance to link up. 

We've been spending several days at Grandma's house this weekend, camping in the front yard, chasing butterflies, and spending time with family.  Oh, and picking blackberries.  Later this week, I'll have a post up for you about blackberries and the awesome cobbler my mom made this weekend. 

But for now, let's just get to partying! Show us those projects. Write a blog post highlighting your project with a link back so that others can join in on the fun. Then link up below to the blog post itself. You can post more than one project just add more than one link. And this week, I'll be picking one of your ideas to highlight on next week's Made by Me.

Oh, and today's the last day to put in your entries for our giveaway. Don't forget to check it out!

Last Chance for Giveaway

Today is your last chance to check our current giveaway.  Entries close tonight at midnight and with only 4 entries, your chances are incredible.  This book has a lot of great tips and ideas and beneficial to families of all sizes.  I only have two kids and still took a lot away from it.  Don't forget to comment!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Link Love

It's the first Sunday of the month and that means party links.  Hope you find something to inspire your next get together.

I'd love to steal some of these ideas from "She's about to POP" (@ Me and My Insanity) for my sister-in-law who's pregnant.  Such a fun off-beat theme.

It's never too early to plan your Christmas party (it's already Sept) and I love this Let it Snow Party (@ Celebrations at Home).

This is a great year for Toy Story and this Buzz Lightyear Party (@ Gluesticks) is sure to be a hit.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

September's Cheapest Fruits and Vegetables

What type of nutritious foods are you cooking up with this season's fruits and veggies?  We are loving the end of the summer produce.  Nectarines are impossible to keep in our house.  And we've been making tons of chicken salad with tomatoes and cucumbers.  That's been a huge standby dinner for us in these warm months.  As we're rolling into the fall, I'm craving comfort food, but I still want to hang on to my budget and my health.

So here's September's Cheapest Fruits and Vegetables:

I think I'm a little stumped this month.  I'll be posting a spinach recipe later this month, and probably my eggplant lasagna as well.  And I love pumpkin, but I don't know what to do with it beyond baking.  So where do I go from here?

I need some help.  So help me out here; post some recipes for me.  What are you cooking up?

Don't forget to check out this week's giveaway!

*Linked to these Parties.

An Afternoon on Wheels

We had an afternoon of first today.  And boy, did we have a great time.  

Noah's school did an afternoon skate at the local skating rink and crazy me, I thought I'd take the kids.  Wow!  I'm glad I didn't but I am exhausted.  What was I thinking, putting skates on a 4 year old and a two year old?  And to top it all off, I had to have skates to be out there with them.  Me?  In skates?  

I haven't even been in a skating rink since college (over ten years ago).  And I haven't been in a rink on skates since some time in junior high.  Rollerblades on the street certainly aren't the same thing.  Wow!

It was tough getting us all settled in to what we were doing, but eventually we got the hang of it.  I took them each out on the rink one at a time.  Noah was all over the place and Lydia said she wasn't doing it again.  But when we all relaxed, Noah took off on his own and Lydia was content to skate around the benches, eventually letting go near the end.

Here's my little man watching the limbo contest.

Making a mad dash for the side.

Lydia taking a break to watch the action.

And a moment of her actually on her feet.

And we have success!

All in all it was a great afternoon, and I've hardly heard a peep out of them since I put them to bed.
How long has it been since you were skating?

Don't forget to check out this week's giveaway!
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