For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows grace and favor and glory - honor, splendor and heavenly bliss! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Psalms 84:11

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cha Cha Cha Chia

Seriously... what is this world coming to?

And why isn't there a Regan Chia?

Monday, September 28, 2009

How To Make Traditional Bread & Butter Pickles - Mystery Spice Monday


It's what I've been doing all summer while not attending to my blog.

I've learned a lot! I've learned that when you overfill canning jars they erupt in your canner and then you have a mess plus not enough liquid in your jars. I've learned that I should definitely plant less cucumbers next year. And as a result, I could make bread & butter pickles in my sleep.

And they are soooo good! WAY better than dill or sweet in my opinion.

And I now have enough to give them away plus have plenty for myself.


Oh, and since I thought you'd be interested, here's a bunch of stuff I picked which necessitated the making of pickles:

Yup, that's bunch of tomatoes, a zucchini, and 6 cucumbers. And believe it or not, my cucumbers are slowing down. In previous weeks I'd pick 8-13 cucumbers in a day and 4-6 zucchini.

Now you know why I haven't been around!

So lets get down to business with the cucs shall we?

Slice approximately 7 cups of cucumbers and 4 onions and place them in the largest bowl you own.

Cover them with 1/2 a cup of canning and pickling salt. This is important, regular salt won't dissolve properly.

Cover completely with water and let it soak for at least 2 hours. While they are soaking you can prepare your canning jars, rings and lids. This will make 5-7 pint size jars so I usually prepare 8 just in case.

Once the soaking is done rinse completely. I rinse mine in small sized batches to make sure I get all the salt water off.

Then I set up my stove. The small pot in the back has a little bit of water and lids set to low heat until simmering. The front left pot has 3 cups of white vinegar, 2 cups of sugar, 2 Tbs. of mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon of celery seed and 1 teaspoon of tumeric. Cook this until it comes to a boil and the sugar is disolved. On the right front burner is my steamer canner (it's the same as a water bath only it steams, you can use a regular water bath).

Once your pickling solution comes to a boil you can add your veggies. I do small batches at a time using veggies I've just rinsed.

Return them to a boil. Once it starts boiling they're done! Easy peasy!

Remove your pot of goodies from the heat and start filling jars with a slotted spoon.

As I do this I often stop and sort of gently bang the jars on the counter to shake them around a bit and get the veggies to compact.

When I'm done with a small batch my solution looks like this. And I put it back on the stove on med-high heat until it returns to a boil. Then I add more veggies, boil, fill jars, etc.

Once the veggies are all cooked and the jars are all filled I top them off with spoonfuls of pickling solution. You want to leave a generous 1/4 inch headspace.

Run a knife around the jars to release any air bubbles. Add more solution if needed.

Then a VERY important step! Take a wet rag and wipe the rims of the jars. If you don't, the lids won't seal and you will have done all that work for nothing.

You guessed it! Then you add the lids. I have a handly little magnetic lid lifter that came in a box of canning supplies. They're not necessary, you could just use tongs, but since I have it I'm using it.

Place the lids.

And then put the rings on. You want them to be "finger tight". My definition of that is only twist with the tips of your fingers, don't use your whole hand to get it as tight as possible. I do put them on tighter than my mom, she barely screws them on. The good news is that we both have successfully preserved food so I don't think it's that big of a deal.

Put the jars in your canner. Use manufacturers directions on whichever canner you have. Remember, canning is not just cooking, it's science. So it's important to follow the directions precisely.

For mine I need to wait until steam comes out of those little holes on the side before I start my processing time. And I never really knew how HARD it was to take a picture of steam! This was the best I could do. :P

Process them for 10 minutes, after that my canner needs to sit off the heat for 3 minutes. And then Voila! Preserved pickles!

Lift them out of the canner using that cool lifter tool from your canning supplies box.

Let them set for 24 hours, and delight in the music of popping lids! That's the sound that means "I'm sealed!".

After 24 hours, any lids that aren't sealed (you can test them by pushing in the middle of the lid, if it gives it isn't sealed) just toss them in the fridge and use them within the next week or two.

I know some of you said that you might participate this week in Mystery Spice Monday, and that's AWESOME! But I still haven't figured out how to do the new Mr. Linky (it's on the to do list!). So if you have a recipe to share please post your link in a comment and I will add a permanent link to the bottom of this post. Thanks for your understanding! :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Things I Can Do, Things I Can't

Things I Can Do:

Make Pickles

Care for a Garden

Read an occasional book

Play Sims 3

Raise adorable twin 2 year old girls

Bake a semi-healthy treat once a week

Make dinner 5 times a week

Clean the house once a week

Give the dogs some attention, once a day

Plan a Book discussion group, first meeting this Saturday (HURRAY!!)

Take above mentioned toddlers to the grocery store when in dire need for ingredients or diapers or canning jars

Check Facebook twice a day

Maintain a healthy marriage (so sorry you're hitting the low end of the priority list lately honey!)

Things I Apparently Can't Do:

Do all of the above plus make recipes, take pictures of them, edit pictures, post pictures, and give step by step directions of how to make the recipe.

Sorry about that!

But never fear! I'm currently making a batch of bread & butter pickles, taking pictures, and hopefully I'll post up the recipe on Monday! That's right folks, my first Mystery Spice Monday since oh... June? But who's counting, right?

Once the garden dies and I get out of rehab for my Sims 3 addiction I'm sure I'll get back to my regular blogging schedule.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Aloha Friday!

From An Island Life

In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day that we take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So I thought that on Fridays I would take it easy on posting, too. Therefore, I’ll ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you'd like to participate with your own question on your own blog, head on over to An Island Life to link up and join the fun!

Today my Aloha Friday Question is: What do you miss the most when it's in the wash?

I have this big water bottle that is practically glued to me, and when it goes in the dishwasher I always feel like I'm missing something!

So what is it for you? A favorite sweater? Your favorite jeans? Your compost bucket (another thing that I miss! LOL)?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tidal Raves Restaurant Review - Things I Love Thursday!

Here is another great restaurant review written by my mom. Hope you enjoy! :)

A favorite of mine, Tidal Raves Seafood Grill (279 NW Hwy 101, Depoe Bay, OR 97341 541-765-2995) continues to draw large crowds to fill its 20 tables. You know you are in for a treat when people leaving encourage you with "It's worth the wait!". People are inside and outside waiting. It is 2:30 p.m. We wait for about 30 minutes. A definite Rave Review. They do take reservations in case you'd rather not wait. The view over the north end of Depoe Bay is one of the best on the Oregon Coast. The decor and music are pleasing and not detracting from the main attractions - the food and the view. I order Halibut Tacos with corn tortillas filled with grilled or battered fish, cilantro dressed cabbage, tomatoes and fresh lime; roasted pepper rice; and black beans with pico de gallo. The contrast of flavors are a delight. I have ordered this before and this is one of the few dishes that come to my mind unbidden. This time the taco is not as saucey ( more cilantro sauce would have been nice) so I am disappointed. But the black beans with pico de gallo are even better then I remembered! My husband orders traditional fish and chips served with coleslaw. The servers are efficient and very busy. Our order comes quickly, our bill slowly. We are not in a rush. There is this incredible hypnotic view to entertain us.... We will return. My meal is $11.50. Hubby's is $10.50. Eight wonderful sounding desserts are listed on the board but they will have to wait for another time.

For more things to love visit!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Way Back When-endsday! Family Pic

This was taken back in June, actually on the girls' second birthday. I just wish they would have smiled! A friend of mine put it well when she said it looks like their plotting. But plotting what???

For more Way-Back fun visit Cheryl over at Twinfatuation!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Surfrider Resort Restaurant Review - Things I Love Thursday

My Mom has kindly volunteered to help me out with my blog while my life is so crazy (and hopefully beyond). I didn't really know what to expect when I asked her to send me some of her restaurant reviews. I honestly don't think I've read anything written by my mom, unless it's a letter or email to me. But I know she's a smart lady who reads a lot so I knew it would be good! And I was right. :)

Several things make the Surfrider Resort Restaurant (on Highway 101 South of Lincoln Beach and North of Depoe Bay at the Oregon Coast) a "Rave Review". The Surfrider perches on the cliffs above Fogerty Beach and the view is truly one of the best on the Oregon coast. I step out of my norm and order steamer clams and linguine tossed with mushrooms and green onions in a white wine sauce. The flavors are subtle and not over powering of the delicate flavor of the clams. The clams are tender! I am used to razor clams which are not always. The salad with raspberry vinaigrette is fresh. The warm rolls are adequate. I would choose this again! My hubby agrees this place is consistently above average. The servers are smiling, attentive, and allow the diners to relax and enjoy the entire sunset without feeling pressure to leave before the "show" is complete. The music is not to my liking. The decor does not detract from the wonderful view. My dinner, at the lower price end was $18.00.

We always said that one of these days we'd work on a joint writing project, and I'm really glad that day has come! Hopefully my readers enjoyed this as much as I have, because I'll be featuring one of my mom's reviews once a week until she gets sick of of being my "on the scene" reporter, since obviously I'm very "off the scene". lol

For more Things to Love visit

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

New Developments and other odds and ends

My mom keeps reminding me that I need to write this stuff down, so here I go! You're welcome, Mom. :)

The girls are getting very good at taking their clothes off. During our morning walk today Anya somehow was able to get her shirt off while strapped inside a 5-point harness! Still have no idea how she did that.

I often leave the living room, only to come back 5 minutes later to a naked Ziva. She's started taking ALL her clothes off any time she gets her diaper wet or dirty. This morning I walked in after she had pooped, and she was in the process of taking off her diaper. She looked at me and hurriedly finished taking it off, and then ran to the changing station saying, "Poop! Yuck, yuck!" The other day after a #2 I was changing her and she said, "Poop. Yuck. Bye-bye poop!"

On a somewhat related note, Ziva also hates sleeping with ANY clothing on, including her diaper. So every morning for the past week when I go to wake her up she's totally naked and sleeping in a puddle. She always seems kind of surprised to be all wet, like whoa! How did that happen?

These things lead me to think that Ziva is pretty darn close to being ready for potty training. I think that maybe on Monday I'll try to help her out with that and see what happens.

Elmo Mania has hit our house with a vengence. Ziva says, "Melmo" all the time, and Anya will readily go and get the Elmo doll if we prod her with "Where's Elmo?". But in Ziva's mind pretty much anything that's red is "Melmo" including a pile of tomatoes on the kitchen counter. She saw those tomatoes and signed and said, "More?" "More Pees (please)?" "More Melmo?". I kept trying to explain to her that those were tomatoes, not Melmo, but she wouldn't hear of it. I finally had to shove them into the fridge to get them out of her sight.

Coloring has become a favorite past-time. Yesterday their EI teacher pointed out that Anya is more interested in the process of coloring, and Ziva is more interested in the result. In otherwords, Anya jumps right in with the colors, making lines and circles and dots and seems to really enjoy doing it herself. Ziva on the other hand would much rather watch me draw or color things and only does her own coloring if I push her to. Ziva often brings me their magnidoodles and asks me to draw on them. I almost never see her do her own drawing with them, but Anya draws on them all the time.

Dancing is also big on the Fun list. Anya likes to spin in circles and has a lot of really great dance moves! She starts dancing pretty much as soon as any music comes on and I seriously think she's a better dancer than I am (that really isn't saying much!). Ziva really likes to dance too, but her moves are really different. She really likes to do a bouncing motion bending her knees, it's become her signature move. And when she really gets going she'll jump up and down.

We are really having a lot of fun with them these days which is such a blessing! If it weren't for them we pretty much would lay around and complain about our aches and pains. Instead we're dancing, and tickling, and laughing at their antics! It makes us realize at how good our life really is despite our circumstances.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Change of Plans

We've had an unexpectedly interesting weekend. Our original plan was to sit around and do nothing and hope and pray that by Tuesday we'd feel well enough to make it through another week. You see, now that Hubs has an injured shoulder I've been doing a lot more than I probably should and now I'm in pretty serious pain too. Seriously, not what we need right now... but there you have it. The Tylenol & Advil and Ultram is being passed around like candy these days... so not cool.

Last week my parents invited us to join them at the beach this weekend. I didn't give her an answer for a long time. I was kind of hoping we'd suddenly feel a lot better and be up to the task of packing children into carseats and driving for 2.5 hours. But when it came right down to it we just weren't. We were like whipped puppies ready to sulk off and lick our wounds and not at all prepared for an adventure. So I begrudgingly said no to my Mom. Not something I like to do, especially not when a fun beach weekend is involved.

Then I happened to get into a phone convo with my SIL who out of the blue suggested she and her husband come up from California for the weekend. Her husband had a 4 day weekend, which meant it would be the very first time he's been able to join her on a trip up North to our house. The last time he was able to come up here was for our wedding seven years ago. And really, what's a 15 hour drive when the end result is spending 2 days with your family? I thought it was a little crazy... but maybe just crazy enough to work! So straight away I started laundering guest room sheets and getting excited about a weekend of card playing and sight seeing... and maybe just maybe a dinner out with Hubs alone! But then Thursday came and we got the dreaded call to tell us SIL's husband unexpectedly had his work schedule changed and ended up having to work Friday. Damn it! So there went our second set of potential weekend plans...

So as we were sulking I surfed Facebook. And low and behold one of my best high school buddies was groaning about how her garage sale was canceled due to weather. Ah HA! We made plans quickly, and she and her husband came over last night for dinner! Hurray! We picked veggies, we talked and laughed, and played cards. It was just what we all needed on the first rainy weekend of the season.
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