Homemade Salsa

Anyone who knows me even a little knows that I love Mexican food and especially chips and salsa.

salsajar

Here is my friend Michele’s recipe that I used to make my first batch of salsa:

6–1/2 pounds tomatoes (about 12 cups) — peel and cook until mushy

6 jalapeno peppers

12 long yellow peppers

3 to 4 peppers — assorted colors — chopped

2 large onions — chopped

1–1/2 cups white vinegar

2 Tablespoons salt

3 teaspoons minced garlic (or much more, like I did, for a stronger taste)

Cook all ingredients 1–1/2 hours uncovered on simmer. Process in warm, clean jars in water bath, 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts. For less hot sauce remove seeds from jalepenos. (I removed about about 2/3 of the seeds for a slightly hotter than medium salsa.)

I quadrupled the recipe and it filled 27 pints and 6 half pints.

simmering

simmering salsa

Technorati Tags: Salsa,Home Canning,Recipes

Slowly Increasing My Domesticity

bottles

I have had a busy but fun week learning how to bottle. We now have blueberry jam, salsa, and tomatoes. I am hoping to get a few jars of pickles, peaches and pears in before our trip to California next month.

When I was growing up my friend Jana’s mom bottled the best pickles every year. Jana would ask me what I wanted for my birthday and I would say, “a bottle of pickles!”

It is about time I learned how to make my own.

It Smells Happy

I took the kids to the elementary to see if Luca needed to register for the new school year. I remember registering every year as a kid and it seems strange to just show up on the first day of school, but that is all returning students have to do here.

prettyluca2

Luca had a cute little smile on her face as we walked into the school office and she waved at the two women working there.

“Hi Luca!” they said as we walked into the office. I could tell she was thrilled they remembered her name.

After finding out we didn’t have to fill out any paperwork we headed back to the car. Luca grabbed my hand and looked up at me and said, “I love the way it smells in there.”

She smiled all the way to the car.

I am glad that the smell of office supplies makes my girl happy.

I am glad that learning makes her happy.

I am glad that she is counting down the days until school starts.

But it doesn’t make me miss her any less when she finally goes back.

Her Plans Are Foiled Again

anna

On our way to church this morning:

Anna: I don’t want to go to church. Let’s just pretend we are sick.

Me: That would be lying.

Anna: They will never know.

Me: But Heavenly Father would know.

Anna: No he won’t. He can’t see us.

Me: Yes he can. Heavenly Father can always see us.

Anna: What if we wear our church clothes and say we are going to church, but go to Chuckee Cheese instead?

Me: Yep, he would still know.

Anna: Dangit.

My Thoughts on Toni Morrison’s: “The Big Box”

I was browsing books by Toni Morrison last week on Amazon and came across a children’s book she wrote called, along with her son Slade, called The Big Box. I am a fan of Toni Morrison so I logged into the King County Library System website and put the book on hold.

the big box

I picked up the book today and couldn’t wait to read it so I read it in the parking lot of the library while my kids whined about their hunger.

The book is about three children, Patty and Mickey and Liza Sue, who are told “you just can’t handle your freedom” and imprisoned to live in a cardboard box. They are showered with every materialistic thing their little hearts could desire and visited once a week by their parents, who come bearing gifts.

It is sad as the “teachers who love her”, the “tenants who love him”, and the “neighbors who love her”, talk to each of the children to explain to them that they can’t handle their freedom so they are going to be sent away. Each child answers in confusion with the things that they are doing right. Mickey replies, “But I comb my hair and I don’t do drugs, and every day I vacuum the rugs.”

The empty and sad looks on the faces of the children as they sit in their cardboard box surrounded by toys, junk food, and entertainment is heartbreaking and as a parent it really made me think about my own children.

How many times have I called the kids into the house and told them to watch television or play Nintendo for awhile because I was tired of them throwing dirt clods at the house, making mud “soup” when they weren’t supposed to be playing in the water, or screaming because one of the others was tying them to the oak tree?

A lot of times it is easier to throw toys, goodies, or entertainment at our kids so that we don’t have to deal “right now” with a behavior. And most importantly, there are many times that the poor behavior is not really poor behavior, but a demonstration of creativity or just being a KID!

Also, it demonstrates that it is not things that children want, but our time. That is something we hear and think we understand as parents, but to truly grasp it takes a lot more thought and effort than one would imagine.

Brett and I both strongly believe that children should be respectful and we enforce that, but I will be thinking a lot more about the motivation behind the action next time I jump to discipline one of my children.

Reading through the reviews on Amazon it is clear that this book can be interpreted in many ways and there are many who think this book is not for young children. My kids are mature enough to hear it. I will read it to them tomorrow and see how they react.

There are so many meanings that can be taken from this book. I would love to hear from others that have read it!

Technorati Tags: Children’s Books,Toni Morrison,Book Review. Parenting

Fun With Chocolate

I have been trying to find ways to use my spearmint and peppermint plants that are growing like crazy.

Luca suggested we put some mint leaves in lemonade and it turned out really good. We have been alternating the spearmint and peppermint in Crystal Lite or lemon or limeade made from the recipe on the back of the lemon or lime juice bottles (Luca’s favorite) once a day for that past week. Not bad!

Tonight we decided to try dipping the leaves in chocolate. They turned out really good!

dipped chocs2

We also tried a few strawberries and blueberries. They were all great, but I am going to use a darker and better quality chocolate next time.

They aren’t exactly pretty…but they didn’t last long so we didn’t care.

We dipped the strawberries and mint leaves with our fingers and used toothpicks to dip the blueberries. After we dipped them we put them in the fridge for fifteen minutes so the chocolate would harden. We also put one tray of dipped blueberries in the freezer and they were great frozen.

The kids are already thinking of new things to dip next time. First thing on the list: Teddy Grahams!

Randomness

* My four and five year olds don’t just ask for candy or chocolate. They say, “Mom, can I have some dark chocolate truffles?” Huh?! I didn’t know little people could be so high maintenance!

* $350 worth of groceries is the new $250

* When I grocery shop at midnight with an overflowing cart full of groceries and there is only one check stand open, how many people with only a couple of items should I let ahead of me before I feel okay about tying up the line for fifteen minutes while they ring me up? I let one guy with a bag of diapers ahead of me and then I totally avoided eye contact with the other six people that filed in behind me. (And then diaper guy asked for cigarettes after he had already paid and the checker had to go across the store to the film developing department and go behind the counter and use a key to get them out of a cabinet and then come back and ring him up again and I was all, “that’s what I get for being nice”.)

* The dang squirrels got our first two strawberries just as they became ripe. Elka (the dog) has been put on red alert to keep the rest safe until they are juicy and red.

* Speaking of the dog. She is normally very well behaved…but today she totally ate a plate of 5–6 blueberry pancakes from the table this morning while I was out of the room! These weren’t our typical pancakes. Oh no. We picked the blueberries ourselves and it was the most involved recipe I have ever used for pancakes. Beating the egg yolks and whites separately, sifting the dry ingredients, folding each ingredient in one at a time…ridiculous, but delicious! All I can say is the squirrels better not make it to any more of our strawberries.

* I don’t like the Nintendo Gamecube anymore. (no, we don’t have a wii) We have just slowly been coming off of a two month break from it and the kids are already fighting over whose turn it is and who played the longest and who gets the purple controller…reminds me of why we took it away in the first place. It is gone again until my kids start acting like they like each other.

* Oh, I don’t hate Nintendo DS’s though. Looooove those! They each have one to use so there is seldom fighting about them. They are life savers! Long car rides and doctor’s office waiting rooms are no big deal with a DS for each kid.

* It is 1am and I am tired and I am babbling. Good night!

Getting My Frizz On

This is why I only let the kids brush my hair late at night, and only if I am not going anywhere or expecting anybody to stop by for the rest of the night.

kims hair

Brett walked in the room and exclaimed, “Whoa! New hairdo?”

Yes, it is the Marsha Brady…only frizzier.

So the kids are starting to catch on just a little bit that brushing my hair is not a privilege. They used to fight over who got to do it and now they ask me how much it is worth. Good thing they still think a couple of dimes is worth ten minutes of their time.

Tonight Luca said, “Mom, I think I brush your hair the best, Lincoln rubs your feet the best, and Anna rubs your back the best.”

I said, “Hmmm, you might be right. I should probably have you all do it at the same time so I will know for sure.” I think she bought it. I will try to slip it into tomorrow night’s bedtime routine.

Brett found out before we were married how much I love my feet rubbed and my hair brushed. I can’t think of another way to win me over more than those two things.

The first time we watched a movie together (I think our second date), he rubbed my feet for the ENTIRE movie. It was Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I will always love that show. I knew that night that I had found “the one”.

Luckily in eleven years of marriage he still doesn’t mind when I prop my feet up on his lap for some attention, or when I lean into him while we watch a movie in the “please play with my hair” pose.

*About the picture: It was 11pm and I had already taken my makeup off and it is black and white because my eyes were so read from my contacts. And yes, my freckles really pop out in the summertime.

A Start In Gardening

We have a strawberry!

strawberry

I planted forty strawberry starts several weeks ago. They were leftovers from a nursery in town and were “certified”, whatever that means in plant talk. I was told they were very hardy and could be planted in almost any type of soil. They did survive being planted upside down for a couple of hours so I believe they are quite tough.

Notice that the strawberry plant is planted in very gravelly bark. It is also planted, along with some of it’s family, right under a pine tree and I have to rake dead pine needles away from them a couple times a week. I am kind of surprised they are growing as well as they are in these conditions. I believe in tough love.

Really, only about half of the plants I planted are going to survive, but that is way higher statistics than I usually get in gardening.

We were also told that this strawberry plant spreads out and forms vines, so if they survive we should have more each year. Then I am supposed to divide them when they get too thick. Good thing I have a couple of years to learn how to do that!

Thankfully Luca has happily taken on the roll as strawberry plant nurturer and she makes sure they get water every day. It has been her summer project.

daisies

Here are my daisies. I am hoping that this plant has at least doubled in size by this time next year. I bought the smallest of the daisy plants at Wal-Mart because I felt sorry for it. It was on clearance and the others weren’t and it needed some love. It has twice as many flowers now than it did when we planted it a few weeks ago. (this is only a portion of it…it isn’t THAT small)

lavender

And I am SO excited to watch my lavender flourish over the next few years. I LOVE lavender and I am sure I will add even more next spring.

Our tomato plants and herbs are also thriving. I am in shock. I have always been one to kill plants, not grow them! I am hoping I am onto something.

Next year I want to have a couple of raised beds for vegetables. I would love to make a delicious salad from my garden!

Technorati Tags: Gardening,Lavender,Strawberries,Daisies