Friday, September 28, 2012

Yummy in my Tummy

Can you guess what I'm going to talk about in this post? If you guessed food, you're right! I was looking through all the pictures on my camera and realized I had an awful lot of random shots of food. So instead of making a bunch of awkward separate posts on these edible wonders, I decided to collect them all together and make one mouth-watering post. Awesome idea!

My sister Cora and a good friend Amanda came for a visit last weekend and in order to prepare for them, I decided to make some healthy snacks. I chose granola, granola bars, maple roasted almonds and hummus. I unfortunately didn't snap any pictures of the hummus and granola bars but that's okay, you can use your imagination.

Homemade granola
And apparantly I didn't get any of the almonds either. Oops! But doesn't that granola look delicious? It tastes really good too. I've been having it for breakfast most mornings this past week.

The next item on my to make list was apple butter. This one is mostly because I am still working my way through the huge box of apples I was given. I had never made apple butter but I thought I would give it a shot. I found a crockpot recipe on Pinterest and got to it!

Preparing for the apple butter!
 (I only actually used half of the apples shown since my crockpot is obviously smaller than the one they used)

Ready to cook all day long
 I missed taking more progress pictures because my guests showed up and I kind of ignored the crockpot for a while. But come 8:00pm when I was wanting to get to canning it, I realized it wasn't looking very much like apple butter. Then again, I had never seen apple butter before... but this wasn't how I imagined it. It basically looked like the above picture but a little bit darker and a little bit more cooked. With Cora's advice, I removed it from the crockpot and put it in a pot on the stove to finish cooking. I mashed it with a potato masher and let more of the liquid simmer off of it. I'm pretty pleased with the end results, even if it only made two small jars. Oh, and enough for us to taste test it too.

My first attempt at apple butter
For Sunday morning breakfast I planned to get up early and make scones for our company. But Cora beat me to it and she whipped up these fabulous blueberry scones while grooving away to some awesome music. We kind of wished we had made a double batch.

Blueberry Scones
Sorry for the not so awesome picture, I obviously have to work on my photography skills. I blame it on the fact that they were fresh out of the oven and I was hungry and I just wanted to eat them!

I planned on making an apple cobbler for dessert on one of the nights but Cora insisted on an apple raspberry pie. So I caved to her pressure and we made the pie. I just want to preface this by saying both of us are normally very very good at making beautiful delicious pies. I'm not sure what happened... oh wait, yes I am. We used margarine instead of shortening and added some spelt flour. Let's just say the pie dough wasn't very stretchy. At all. Our attempt didn't work out that well. I would like to point out though that the apples were very well cut up thanks to Amanda. At least that part wasn't a failure. Without further ado, here is our pie.

We ran out of dough so we had to make do with random strips for the top.

It didn't slice well either. What do you mean that doesn't look like a pie?

It was mostly tasty even if a little dry.
That basically sums up the weekends goodies but this post doesn't stop there. After Cora and Amanda left, I had to deal with the fridge. It was full of leftovers and random foods that needed to be eaten and soon. I am trying really hard to waste less lately so I came up with ways to eat it all. Old squishy wrinkly peaches turned into a peach upside down cake! It was my first time ever making one and boy do I wish I had thought of this earlier. So so good!

Before it was flipped
After it was flipped
We didn't even bother cutting up pieces

 It was so good warm. We just ate it straight from the pan, devouring a good chunk off the end of it. Hopefully with all this eating I will have gained a couple pounds. I doubt it but one can hope right?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Busy Busy Like a Bee

As you may have noticed I have been a little more absent lately. I did fabulous in August as far as posting and keeping it exciting on here and then September hit and the posts have slowed down. I have a good excuse though. Well, maybe not really an excuse but more like a reason. A very good reason. Are you ready for it?

In case that picture isn't self explanatory enough, they are textbooks. Textbooks for the dreaded Taxation class I am taking. It's a 15 week course and those are my reading materials for it. Can you say "Poor poor Jenn"?

As you can probably imagine, I have been doing a lot of this over the past few weeks.

All this to say that the blog has fallen to the side a bit. With working full time, taking a ridiculously hard course and trying to keep the house somewhat clean, cook food and harvest the garden, I have had my hands full. So I apologize and will try and do better. No guarantees though. The posts will probably be sporadic until this course is over in December. I have a bunch of pictures on my camera just waiting to go up though so maybe I'll find some free time to share them before they get too out of date to share. In the meantime, please be patient with me.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Home Grown

Something that I am especially enjoying about having my own garden is all the fresh veggies that I have at my disposal. It makes everything better. The other thing I'm loving? Having so many farms around to get local meat from. Oh, and the farmers market for all those veggies that I didn't grow. Such as potatoes.

Veggies for my shepherd's pie


Ready to go in the oven

Colourful layers

Hot and ready to eat!
My garden is coming up on the end of its season and soon I'll be out of all my wonderful fresh out of the garden vegetables. At least I have canned and frozen some of them so that we can enjoy the home grown goodness over the winter.

The shrinking garden


Don't worry, our tomato plants are still producing

Enjoying the fall weather

Basket full of goodness

My noble dog
Life is good. It really is. Each day is a gift and I'm trying to remember to enjoy every one I am given.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Salsa Virgins

As you all probably know by now, we have had a killer tomato crop this year. As in our six little tomato plants we bought in the spring exploded into tomato producing giants! We have happily (most of the time) been dealing with these tomatoes as they multiply on my kitchen counters. First we made stewed tomatoes, then tomato sauce, and then we moved on to SALSA! Let's just get something out in the open first. We have never ever made salsa before. My mom has never ever made salsa before. I have never ever seen someone make salsa before. So this was all new to us. I got a recipe from a friend, we bought the ingredients and then got to chopping! It all started off so well too. We prepped the tomatoes and then chopped the onions and peppers. Last but not least, the jalapenos. Shudder. We each took two to make the process go faster. After the first one, I started to feel like my throat was scratchy and I couldn't swallow/breathe well. Then my eyes started watering and my nose was all weird. Dan felt it too so we rushed to finish off the peppers. By the end, I had a scarf wrapped over my mouth so that I could breathe. Finally we were done so we washed our hands, threw the dishes in the sink and turned the burner on.

Innocent looking jalapeno peppers
This is really what it should have looked like
Salsa ready to boil
OUCH! Here's a little tip for people who don't know any better (like us): Wear gloves when dealing with these little devil peppers. We have definitely learned our lesson and will never make that mistake again. We couldn't touch our mouths, eyes, nose or anything. Plus it also burns. A lot. My hands felt like they were on fire for a good hour. We tried soaking them in milk, washing them with lemon juice and soaking them in olive oil. It was no use, nothing helped and we finally realized that we would just have to wait. Time would be the only thing to fix this dumb move. After about 24 hours they lost most of their spicy taste.

The good news though, we made 10 jars of salsa!


Isn't it beautiful?
All but one of the jars sealed and we really didn't mind since it allowed us to do some taste testing. It passed with flying colours. So so good with a nice little kick of spice. We may even make it again next year. With gloves.

Yum yum yum!

For those of you who would like to try this fabulous recipe. Here you go. We doubled it and omitted the green chilies since we couldn't find them anywhere.


4 1/2 lbs (10 large) Ripe tomatoes, scalded, peeled and chopped

3 Mild green chilies
1 large Spanish onion
1 large green pepper
1 medium red pepper
3-6 jalapeno peppers
5 1/2 oz. tomato paste
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp course pickling salt
2 tsp paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced

Chop and Combine all ingredients in large pot. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Boil gently for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened to desired consistency. Pour into hot sterilized jars. Makes 10 half pints.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Gloomy Day

Today is a blah day, a gloomy day, a "I wish I were at home in my pj's" sort of day. But alas, I am at work. The good news is, I have all of next week off. Back to today. Today, this is how I feel.

Does anyone else ever have days like this? Days where you just feel worn down and life is getting to you? I don't feel any stronger today. Today I feel defeated.

I'm sure tomorrow will be better. After I get a good nights sleep in my system, my outlook on life will be better. It's got to be. And I'm going to keep this thought in the back of my mind.

For tomorrow. Tomorrow I will choose to be happy. Today, today is a blah day.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"I'm just gonna whip these up..."

That's what I said to Dan the other night about some muffins. We were rushing around the house getting it ready for a friend's birthday party and I had the chocolate cake in the oven. When I went to bring my jars of salsa (keep an eye out for a post on how that went) down to the cold room, I discovered my box of apples was smelling a little too much like apples. I decided to go through the box and came across 5 rotten ones. So I thought that it was about time for me to start using them up. Since the oven was already on, I figured "Why not just whip up some apple muffins?". Well let's see why: 1) I don't have an apple muffin recipe, 2) my to do list was already a mile long, 3) the cake was almost done at this point, and 4) "whipping up" never goes as fast as you think it will. Oh well. We got some pretty darn good muffins in the end!

First, I Googled apple muffins. The first ones that pop up are called Apple Strudel Muffins. Sold. I get to work assembling ingredients and chopping up apples while telling Dan what he can do to help. We actually had the batter made in some pretty record time. The not so fast process was putting the muffins into tins. The batter was a lot thicker than normal muffin batter so it was way more work to spoon it into the pans and even then you still had to smoosh it down and even out each muffin. To top it all off, there was a yummy butter and sugar topping to add to each one. A little more time consuming and not really fitting for the "whipping up" category. They did turn out amazing though and we have thoroughly been enjoying them.

Yummy crumble topping

Ready to go into the oven

Finished product. So so good!

The birthday cake
 We have happily been eating all these fabulous baked goods over the week and slowly entering into a sugar coma. Just kidding! Half the cake was eaten at the birthday party and Dan and I controlled ourselves with the rest over the next couple of days. We also froze a good chunk of the two dozen muffins. Bet ya wish you were visiting us!

Monday, September 10, 2012

More Changes: My blog address

Dear faithful followers,
As I mentioned a couple weeks back, I am changing the direction and feel of my blog from a loss blog to more of a life blog. Really, the two are quite intertwined. But part of the transition to this new phase of my blog is changing my blog address. I will be changing it to in one weeks time. I wanted to give you all a heads up so that when you go searching for my blog over the next few weeks, you are able to find it. If for some reason, you forget to write it down or forget what it is, you can always contact me for a reminder.

There will also be some more additional tweaking being done to my blog layout/format over the next few weeks. I'm almost done though so the changes should be coming to an end soon. But so far, what do you think? Do you like the look of the new blog? I would love some feedback.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bamboo Makeover

Back in August 2009, we attended my brother's wedding. Each table had a bamboo centerpiece and afterwards, they were sent home with different guests. We ended up with one of them and it has moved from apartment to apartment with us. It was just a small bamboo plant in a small glass vase. In our first apartment it lived on top of the microwave. In our second apartment it lived in the living room window. While it never exactly thrived, it also didn't die. Which was a big success for us since every single one of our other house plants slowly died off. It was the only living thing that survived our two basement apartments, besides us of course.

When we moved to our house last June, we placed in in the kitchen window above the sink. The picture below shows it a bit. Sorry for the dark photo, we weren't purposefully aiming for the bamboo.

Bamboo after we first moved in
As you can see, it was still pretty small and just barely reached the middle of the window. Well, the crazy bamboo LOVED it in that spot and grew and grew and grew. By this summer it had basically doubled in size and was towering in the windowsill. One of the problems of growing so much though, was that the small glass vase was just too small now. The heavy weight of the plant made it a little tippy. And to top it off, the bamboo was starting two new shoots! We decided it was time to transplant our happy little bamboo into a bigger vase.

So we documented the makeover for you, my lovely followers, knowing how much you love seeing pictures.

Our supplies for the bamboo makeover

The roots and the sludge overtook the whole thing. Can you even see the stones?

The new bigger glass vase!

Smashing the old glass vase

See all the shattered glass?

Carefully removing the glass from the roots

Brand spankin' new home with new stones!

Doesn't it look a little more proportionate now?

Back in its happy home

One of the new new shoots popping up through the stones
There is our bamboo makeover adventure. It was fun to see the results and it only took about 15-20 minutes from start to finish. So far the bamboo is happy in its new vase and seems to continue spreading out and growing. Hopefully it doesn't get too much bigger or we'll have to relocate it to a different window!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Finished my goal!

My goal of reading five books before the end of the year that is. Looking back, I probably should have made the goal a little bigger since I read five books in 2 months. But still, I didn't want to make it too unattainable. This way it also makes me feel good about myself for completing it so quickly. Here are the last two books I finished.

Book #4: Adopted for Life by Russell D. Moore

I found this book a little challenging to read. It talks about the priority of adoption for Christian families and the church. While it had a lot of interesting points, I found it hard to get into and a little bit too philisophical for me. Plus, I didn't agree with everything he said. But I was determined to finish it and I'm glad I did.

Book #5: The Stacey Letters by Jane Vansittart

This book was especially interesting and more so because it's about my family history! It is a collection of letters written back and forth between a father (in England) and son (in Quebec, Canada). It showed the hardships faced by the first settlers in the Eastern Townships and the many trials families went through over 150 years ago. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot. It was also really cool to see how my family came to settle in Quebec.

So that concludes my five books I read as part of my book goal. But don't worry, I'm still continuing to read. I actually have two started right now. I know that my reading will slow down a bit though in the next few weeks as I start my last class before completing my certificate. Taxation, here I come!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Simple Pleasures

I've been happy lately. Happier than I have been in a while and it's kind of nice. I'm enjoying smaller things and taking joy in being productive and accomplishing stuff. Life is good.

I made these fabulous cookies over the weekend for our neighbourhood BBQ we attended. They were a hit and all disappeared quickly. Don't worry though, I kept some in the freezer for us later. If you want the full recipe, I got it from the blog Baking with Basil.

Amazing cookies

How could they not be good if they have a Rolo in the middle?

 Here are some other pictures that just bring a smile to my face.

Salsa & chicken dish I made to use up leftovers in the fridge

An evening's harvest

Freezing beans
Some tea and some knitting

It was way nicer in person but you can still see some of the pink highlights around the clouds.

The remains of the old birdhouse

The naked post with no giant birdhouse on it anymore

A snake skin that Mia found
 This post is mostly pictures because it's getting late and I'm tired but also because pictures are sometimes more fun than writing. And sometimes a picture speaks louder than words.