Bits and pieces from the weekend, and pickles!

This weekend was pretty nice. Friday we cooked out on the beach with our friends. We are lucky to live only a few block from Lake Michigan. We grilled fajitas on our little Smokey Joe and made a bonfire once it got dark.

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Rocks = ring of fire, kids keep out!

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The parents had just as much fun with that plane as the kids. ūüôā

The kids got sooooo dirty rolling in the sand and being crazy!

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“For just pennies a day you could make a difference in the life of a child.”

My friend sent me this picture of Morgan with that caption.. Damnit! I about died laughing.. Which is probably completely¬†inappropriate… But you know it’s funny.

Saturday Gianna and I went to the farmers market in the morning- I love going there every week. I meet the nicest people and the food is great.¬†Later we went out for sushi with grandpa (trying to show gramps¬†some¬†culture, at an 80’s decorated sushi¬†place, in S.E. Wisconsin.. ha! It’s the best sushi I have ever had though!), then we went to the shooting range. We had the range to our self, which it always nice. ūüôā

Sunday afternoons I like to bake. I made and froze pancakes for the week. I made banana bread. Then I made a small batch of pickles from the cucumbers in my garden.

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The recipe I used was Bread and Butter Pickles. This is the first time I have used a mix to make pickles. It was really easy to make. The Ball mixes have good reviews, I figured it was worth a try. Has anyone used one of the Ball mixes before? I usually use the pickle recipes in the Blue Book guide. When I get more cucumbers, I will do my favorite dill pickles!

Canning is pretty simple. Keep everything clean, “when in doubt, throw it out”, and try not to kill your family with botulism… I only can high-acid foods, so hopefully I wont have to worry about that. For the past¬†4 years I have canned jams in the spring, pickles¬†and tomatoes in¬†the summer, and apple butter,¬†sauce, and pie filling in the fall.¬†It’s really a good skill to learn and get comfortable with.

 

                                                            Bread and Butter Pickles РBall Recipe

You Will Need:

  • For every 2 quarts of pickles:
  • 3 1/2 lbs pickling cucumbers (about 14 small to medium)
  • 2 1/2 cups vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup Ball Bread & Butter Pickle mix
  • 2 Quart (32 oz) Fresh Preserving jars with lids and bands

Directions:

  1. CUT ends off cucumbers. Cut into 1/2 inch slices.
  2. COMBINE vinegar, sugar, and Ball Bread & Butter pickle mix in a medium saucepan. Heat to a boil.

3.¬† PREPARE canner, jars, and lids according to manufacturer’s instructions.

4. PACK slices into hot jars. Ladle hot pickling liquid over slices leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rims. Center lids on jars. Apply bands and adjust to fingertip tight.

5.  PROCESS in boiling water canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude*. For best flavor, allow pickles to stand for 4-6 weeks.

 

The hardest thing about making pickles is the waiting to taste them. The waiting is kinda fun too though.

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Homemade canned pickles and jams, etc.. make really nice gifts. They have colored jars now, like these green ones, and craft stores have fun labels too.

 

Hopefully my cucumber plant does really good this year and I can make jars and jars of pickles to eat all year. ūüôā

 

I hope you had a nice weekend!

-ash

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Are Buying a Farm!!

  My husband Dave and I have talked about buying a small farm property for years, and now, it. is. happening!!! I still can not believe it! This house and the outer buildings are over 100 years old. Thinking about all the events that have happened at this farm over time is amazing. Families sat at their kitchen table in this house and talked about WWI and WWII while it was happening! It is pretty incredible to think about, and a privilege to own a home like this.

   We close on the house in a couple weeks. Right now Dave and I are having fun bouncing ideas off each other about what we are going to do with all this space. All our lives, we have lived in homes on 1/4 acre lots or less. Jumping to 3 acres that is surrounded by farm field is going to be a welcomed change for us! Here are a few pictures of the property.

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Our incredibly lucky kids

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The well house door

First kite flight at the farm

First kite flight at the farm

So far, our plan is to keeps bees, goats, a shooting range, and a large garden, of course. There is a strip of woods on one side of the property that we would like to clean out and make a path going through it. We have so many ideas and the drive to do them! My pinterest is overflowing!

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guest house

This sweet little guest house will be mine. I am upgrading from my own office to my own house! It has its own furnace, so I can use it year round. I have lots of plans for this sweet space!

Photo by Tim Homburg

Here is a picture of the house (Photo by Tim Homburg). It has lots of original details, which I love! The original doors and wood floor is stunning! It was probably all milled locally from virgin timber. I have been all over town trying to find history on the house. No luck yet on the actual house, but I found lots of information and books about what was going on in the area during the time this was built. Around 1908 , They completed a railroad connecting Milwaukee to Chicago, the settlers put money together to build a pier so they could ship and receive goods from other cities on the Great Lakes. They built a city, it burned down, they built another city, that is still standing. It is all incredibly interesting to me!

pic by Tim Homburg

The owner made this light up sign that he hangs on the barn around Christmas. Isn’t it awesome?! It’s huge! (Photo by Tim Homburg)

 

We are excited to move in, in about 5 more weeks. Our closing was moved because they need to bring some things up to code. I wish we could move in right now, but it works out because Dave will be gone pretty much all next month with the army. It also gives more time for us to get our current house ready to be rented out.

Photo by Tim Homburg

Photo by Tim Homburg

One last picture. Isn’t this great?! I can’t wait to move in!! Thank you Tim for the pictures!!

-Ash

 

 

 

Mojito Frozen Yogurt

I made the mistake a few years ago of planting mint directly into my garden. Because of this, I now have a ridiculous amount of mint! I weed more mint than I do actual weeds. Luckily, I like mint. I am always trying to find new ways to use it. I love minted peas as a side dish. Mint in fruit salads and tea¬†are great too. This week I have been craving mojitos. I’m not a big drinker, but I love the flavor of a mojito.

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I just winged this recipe- I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s nice and refreshing.

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First zest 1 1/2 limes and squeeze the juice into a small bowl. Chop up a 1/2 cup of mint and put it aside.

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In a bigger bowl, add 1 3/4 cups of plain yogurt and 1/2 cup sugar. Mix that together, then add in the lime zest, lime juice, and mint.

Once it is mixed, taste it to make sure you taste the mint and lime, and that it is sweet enough for you. Add more of those ingredients per your taste.

Now put the mixture in the fridge to chill for 4 hours.

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After it chills,¬†pour the mixture into an ice cream maker. It should be ready in 15-20 minutes. During that time, make (and drink!)¬†a mojito! ūüôā

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You can eat it right when it’s done,¬†for a soft serve¬†texture (my favorite! I put my store bought¬†ice cream in the microwave to make it soft, weird, I know..), or you spoon it into a Tupperware and freeze it for an hour before eating for a firmer texture.

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Mojito Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients:

Plain yogurt – 1 3/4 cup

Sugar 1/2 cup

Zest and juice from 1 1/2 limes

1/4 cup chopped mint

Method:

1. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Cover the mixture and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

2. When the mixture is cold, pour it into your ice cream maker. Mix about 15-20 minutes.

3. You can eat it now as more of a soft serve texture, or put it in a container and freeze it for about an hour for a more firm texture. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer.

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It is really light and refreshing! It’s great for summer and something different than the more common frozen yogurt flavors. I went with a yogurt base instead of an ice cream base because I though it would give a lighter flavor and a little sour “zing” from the yogurt.

 

Thanks for reading! I’m making a Mojito cheesecake next!

-ash

 

 

 

 

 

Picnic at the lighthouse

We are lucky to live by some really¬†pretty lighthouses.¬†Yesterday we went for a picnic on the beach by one in the town over. Every day the girls and I do something. Sometimes it’s bigger like the zoo, but usually, its us packing a picnic lunch and heading off someplace. We explore, look for treasures – I always have plastic bags in my¬†purse for treasures- , we meet new people and learn new things. These two have been¬†lots of places. They are not afraid to talk to the light keeper, or ask a million questions to the sweet old man who works at the lighthouse museum. I feel bad, but I do not like indoor jump places¬†or Chuck E. Cheese type places. For birthday parties they are great, but they are sooo loud and crazy, I can’t handle it! I would much rather run around with the kids on the beach, in the woods, or at an art show!

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I’m so lucky I get to hang out with these two. ūüôā

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They have some pretty gardens to walk through and the beach was beautiful!

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The museum was nice. It’s it freaked us out seeing a map of all the shipwrecks that happen in Lake Michigan… and those are only the ones they know about! Watching your kid try to chase a seagull with the view finder thing is always entertaining!

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Why are kids attracted to jagged rocks?

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We like sending postcards. We buy them everywhere we go to send to¬†family and friends. The kids like it, and it’s a nice¬†little “hi, we’re thinking about you” to family.

I hope everyone is having a nice week!

-ash

 

 

 

Army family day.

My husband, Dave,¬†is¬†a captain in¬†the army reserves. He is the¬†company commander¬†of a unit in¬†central Illinois.¬†This weekend they had their annual family day. The plan had been¬†we were all going to grill out and have a picnic at a¬†sweet little¬†farm near the unit. It started storming as we were driving down (2.5 hours drive). The weather looked like it was going to storm all day so we had to figure out something else to do. Some of these soldiers were coming in from Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, and Wisconsin just for this family day. We didn’t want them¬†to have to sit¬†around the unit¬†the whole time¬†and then drive back¬†home. I called a blowing alley to see if they had anything available and they¬†did! When I told her there would be around 80-100¬†people coming¬†in an hour there was a long pause on the phone.. Surprise!

family days make you feel included and connected.¬†Because reserve families don’t live in a military community,¬†we don’t have a way of communicating with each other, or even meeting other reserve families. Even though at these family days we don’t get into deep conversations¬†about being military spouses, it is still comforting to be in the same room with¬†people you know go through the same things you do. Dave is gone a lot being in the reserves.¬†He misses a lot being in the reserves (why do drill weekends and training always fall on birthdays, weddings and when your baby is born??). These family days help us connect with other families and I’m thankful for that.

Everything turned our good despite the weather. The bowling alley was perfect. Besides us being there, I think they only had a couple lanes being used. After we were bowling for a while, the owners started calling people up to get pizza lane by lane on the intercom. I went to go see what was up and the bowling alley was giving free pizza and sodas to the unit and their families! That was so thoughtful and nice of them!! For us to show up with 100 people, with little notice, on a Saturday morning, they were great and very welcoming!

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Gianna had a blast and did a little dance after every roll. After Morgan would “grandma roll” her ball she had enough time to¬†get a bite of pizza and popcorn before the ball even reached the pins… it was an adorable game, in slow motion.

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When the rain let up for a bit we went out into the parking lot to give awards. Dave awarded a Purple Heart to this man. He turned around and talked to the¬†unit but we couldn’t hear what he was saying. It wasn’t meant for us. But you could tell from their faces it was something heartfelt. I’m glad we got to witness it.

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The girls had fun helping draw tickets for raffle prizes and then we all started to say our goodbyes and head home.

 

These get-togethers are important, I wish we could have more. Distance and funding make that hard so we appreciate the yearly picnic we do have.

 

I need to start fundraising for the units Christmas party. Any ideas on how to do that? I plan on baking a bunch of treats and driving down to the unit¬†on drill weekends to sell and make money that way. Dave suggested a car wash… That would be a pretty ridiculous car wash.¬†I picture¬†Gianna swinging a sign around,¬†Morgan splashing and rolling in mud, and me washing¬†one car an hour because I’m a neat freak… Maybe people would¬†donate to¬†our carwash because they felt bad for us.. ha.ha..

 

I hope you had a nice weekend! Thank you for reading!

-ash