Monthly Archives: May 2014


When I was a kid, every summer we could look forward to a jar of my Grandma’s homemade raspberry jam, made from raspberries grown in her home garden.  I can still picture the thick wax seal inside the jar; alas, today this method is not considered safe.  Every now and then I get possessed by the urge to can fruit preserves.  Over the years I have had some successes and failures, but gradually my results are becoming more reliable. One of my favorite books is “Canning for a New Generation” by Liana Krissoff.  I originally borrowed it from the library and in time, purchased it.  (See my prior post on her Quick Indonesian pickles).  Another great resource is the blog Food in Jars.  Today I made Vanilla Rhubarb Jam from the Food in Jars blog.  The recipe called for Earl Grey tea, but I substituted Rishi Vanilla Black tea to heighten the vanilla flavor.  It tastes great!noexif_IMG_4642_private I made a small batch and mostly used the 4 ounce jars.  I am thrilled to say that all my jars sealed and the preserves set properly. noexif_IMG_4637_private While I worked, several male ducks slept in the garden.  When there are no ladies to chase, you might as well have a nap.noexif_IMG_4640_private Do you do any canning?  Or do you have memories of family members preserving food?  I’m waiting for U-pick strawberries to get my next canning fix!

Menu Plan Monday – May 26

Monday – Memorial Day in the US… dinner plans uncertain due to weather.  Hoping rain can hold off and we can cook outTaco Salad

Tuesday – Teriyaki Glazed Tofu, Vegetables and Rice

Wednesday – Make Your Own Pizza on Naan

Thursday – Turkey Burgers and Oven Fries

Friday – Taco salad

For more menu planning inspirations, head over to Orgjunkie!

Garden is Planted!

DH and DD worked in the garden this week and pretty much everything is planted except for our basil.  It is not consistently warm enough to start basil from seed outdoors.

Raised Beds

Raised Beds

In our raised beds we have two areas for yukon gold potatoes, summer squash, cilantro, arugula, swiss chard, zinnias for cutting, and basil.  The zinnias re-seeded themselves from last year. The raised beds with black edging make the soil warmer, which helps immensely.  That extra heat helps compensate for the cool temperatures where we live.  This weekend my husband will hook up drip irrigation which makes watering much easier.



We grow spinach in a big pot to outwit the bunnies.  You can continuously re-seed the pot throughout the summer.  We also do kale in a pot.  Bunnies love baby kale!

Our garden has had many different looks over the years.  The current approach is manageable for us and gives us food we actually will eat on a daily basis.  I have to credit my husband for all the gardening efforts.  It’s just not my thing, but I am happy to harvest and cook it!



Lovely No Spend Day

I swear I went to the grocery store every day last week for Kleenex and juice.  We’re shaking off a cold virus and it feels good to return to some normalcy.

noexif_IMG_4630_privateI had a no-spend, no-drive day today.  Walked daughter to school, walked to work.  The extra time I saved not running around on errands after work gave me time to harvest some rhubarb, one of the perks of living in a cold climate.

A favorite recipe is Rhubarb muffins.  The recipe I use if on the Creative Savv blog.  The recipe is wonderful because it isn’t too high in saturated fat.  If I make a rhubarb pie or cake I am going to be the one eating most of it.  If you can swing the touch of almond extract in the recipe, you will find it gives great “bakery” flavor!



This afternoon I am continuing to plan a grocery stock up trip to take advantage of the Memorial Day pricing on summer staples.  This is the time to grab graham crackers, marshmallows, ketchup, hot dogs, chips, pickles, and meats for the grill.  My coupons are in disarray so I need to cull through those as well.

I have got to make use of a potpourri of canned beans in the freezer.  Does anyone have a favorite chili recipe that uses beans and not too much meat?  Crock Pot would be great.  Feel free to link in comments!

Our tulip tree

Our tulip tree



Menu Plan Monday – May 19

Summer break is just around the corner and it is really time to firm up my menu planning muscles.  I’ve been going into weeks lately with a general idea of meals, and relying on scampering off to the store before school gets out to pick up anything I am missing.  This is a lot more tedious when there are two of us heading off to the store!

Well, we have chives at least . . .

Well, we have chives at least . . .

Mon – Shrimp and twice-baked potatoes using our garden chives, and a vegetable side

Tue –  Spaghetti (veg) with mushroom and black olives, garlic bread, salad.

Wed – Tuna salad, lettuce, deviled eggs

Thur – Black bean and cheese quesadillas with all the fixings

Fri – McDonalds!  Why?  Friday is the start of Isabelle (American Girl) Happy Meal toys.  For more information see Doll Diaries 

For more meal planning inspiration, see OrgJunkie



Near Disaster… Read and Learn

This this little beauty?  She is my daughter’s Webkinz lamb.  Her name is Marigold.



My daughter took her to bed two nights ago and we haven’t seen her since.  We assumed she had fallen under the bed or was tangled in the covers.  Tonight was the first time we got around to looking for her.  No luck finding her.  Marigold is “optional” for a bed-time companion, so we hoped she would turn up.  Meanwhile, I was really wondering where she had gone.  I even checked the laundry chute!

Suddenly a wave of dread crept up on me.  What had been next to the bed that night?  A heaping waste basket of Kleenex, as we are all battling goopy colds.  What color is Marigold?  Yep.

I went to the garbage can outside, knowing i had emptied that bedroom trash can maybe 3 or 4 times in the past two days.  You know you are a parent when you are digging in a garbage can in the garage at 9:00 pm.

Found her on the first try… resting amid heaps of Puffs Lotion tissues.

A very close call!




One More Cup

Today is the 3rd grade all-day field trip, and daughter and husband are dropped off at school (he’s chaperoning) and I have an hour to myself this morning.  No one using the laptop to play Webkinz world or Animal Jam.  I’m having an extra cup of coffee this morning and a little blog time.

Here’s some updates. . .

Money… We completed the major exterior home improvements that we saved for over an entire year.  The house looks great and we were able to do it debt free by budgeting and being focused on saving.

God… We tried a new church closer to our home, and frankly, with services that weren’t as early in the morning!  We are LOVING our new church home.  My daughter found many schoolmates in their Sunday School and signed up for Vacation Bible School this summer.  Blessed!

English Spot BunnyFun . . .  Had a great Mother’s Day, despite having a cold virus.  My gift was a Webkinz Signature English Spot Bunny.  I named her Beatrix, after Miss Beatrix Potter.  This is the perfect bunny… no chewing, no pooping.

Amazed… I saw an eagle this week!  I live blocks from one of the Great Lakes.  I looked up at a condo and sitting on top was a huge stocky bird as big as a 4 year old!!  We have lots of hawks around, and this was no hawk.  I read that eagles do migrate and this one was likely making the journey to Canada or Upper Michigan.  Birds use the lakes as a migration highway.

Reading… “Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine” by Max Lucado.  Love all his writing.

Well, time to get ready for work.  The third and fourth grades are on all-day field trips so it is going to be a quiet day in the school cafeteria!