Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Time is Here

Christmas is one of those Holidays that really sticks out to me when thinking about my childhood .  I remember picking out the tree with the family, trying to figure out who's presents where who's(my mom used codes on our presents), and most of all I remember Christmas Eve night.  My mom and dad would make a big feast and then as we were letting the food settle in our tummies, my dad would read the story of Christ's birth from the scriptures.  Back then, I was just anxiously waiting to open a gift on Christmas Eve(one of my favorite Christmas traditions)so I didn't really pay attention to the story being read.  Now that I'm older and much wiser, I have had more time to think about that special story.  All the sacrifices that went into having that sweet little baby boy, and traveling far to meet him.  The spirit that must have been present in that stable.  I bet even the animals were crying.  I hope I'm able to tell that story well enough to my kids that they can feel and understand the significance of Christmas.  Yes, we still talk about Santa in our home but Christ is always the reason as to why we celebrate Christmas.  Santa to me is just a symbol of giving.  Christmas time is about Christ but it's also about what Christ would do.  He would be giving of his time, money, and blessing those around Him.  That, to me, is what Santa does.  So, Merry Christmas to all of you, and for those who are curious, this is what Christmas looks like in our home.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Family Photos by Courtney Bowlden Photography

I've said this before and by golly I mean it, I am one lucky gal to have such a talented sister.  I'm always asking her to take photos of our little family when she's in town, and she never ceases to amaze me.  Like the fact that you can't tell from these pictures that we were all freezing our butts off.  Or that Jade had the snottiest nose this side of the Mississippi!  I'm feeling blessed.  Life is definitely good!  All photos done by Courtney Bowlden Photography.   

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Jade's Forest Birthday Bash

Jade turned one last week and I'm still amazed at how fast that year went by.  At the same time I feel like I barely remember the day of her birth. 
We celebrated with lots of family and friends.  I feel blessed to have so many in my life that care so much to make an effort to come out and celebrate with us.  Jade loved her birthday party.  It was forest themed, and I worked on this party for months.  Trying to figure out what food to serve and the decorations and such.  When it really came down to it, some of the food didn't turn out so great and I was too tired to finish all the original decorations I came up with.  However, I think it ending up looking pretty freakin awesome!!!  All the kids got a felt mask to play with.  I worked long and hard on those darn masks, and the kids loved them.  Success!!!!  We partied hard and had a great night.   

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Old Lady Crafts

For me, there's something really rewarding about crafting.  It makes feel accomplished.  Either that or it makes me feel cool cause I can make crap.  Who knows.  What I do know is when I'm walking around the dollar store and I see old lady bowls and plates my mind starts thinking of what to do with them.  I had seen this idea on Pinterest before and thought, 'eh...why not?'  So I grabbed some candle holders and those awesome old lady glass items and added them to my cart of junk! 
Below are the instructional pictures on how to make an old lady glass cake stand and an old lady fancy bowl thingy(I have no idea what to call the bowl contraption). 
 You will need:
1. Glass plate from the dollar store
2. Glass bowl from the dollar store
3. Two glass candle holders from the dollar store
4. E6000 glue(I'm shocked they sell this stuff because on the package it clearly states that they know this causes cancer and yet they still allow people to buy any rate...use it outside or in a VERY well ventilated area!!!)
 Apply glue to the top of the candle holder.  Get enough on there to fill in the details on the plate or bowl but not enough to sploog(is that a word?) out the sides and all over the place!
 Place the candle holder on the bottom of the glass plate or bowl.  Try to get it as centered as possible.  If you really want to get technical you could measure to find the center but...well...I didn't.
Allow to dry for several hours if not 24 hours before using.
 To finish the might want to bake some yummy cookies or something to really show off how old lady you are!  Your welcome!



Saturday, November 16, 2013

I'm going to Jackson, look out Jackson Town

I surprised my husband with a two night getaway to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for our anniversary...and I must say, I'm pretty darn good at keeping secrets, cause he had NO idea what was going on.  I really, really enjoyed this trip.  I mean, I got to spend one on one time with my husband surrounded by a gorgeous town and miles and miles of beautiful views.  Oh and the food...don't even get me started.  Delish!!!  But, all in all, if I've learned anything about 6 years of marriage and two kids, it's that husband and wife time is so very important.  It's time to reconnect and realize that you still are deeply in love with that person next to you. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Let's talk for a sec...

Via Here
Let me begin by saying, I am totally guilty of this and gosh dang it I'm sick of it.  Maybe I'm going off on a rant, but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who does this.  I was talking with my friend earlier today about this exact thing and what an awful impact it has on all of us.  I'll admit that I read random strangers blogs and Instagram feeds.  I search through Facebook like I know people.  It's time to come out and say it...STOP IT ALREADY!!!  Maybe it's our nature to only post pictures of good times.  Maybe we don't want people to know that we aren't super-humans and we make mistakes, so we avoid posting about the bad.  Or maybe your the people that drive us all crazy when you post nothing but depressing things.  Either way...let's be real.  I hope that no one who reads this blog thinks my life is peachy keen.  I have hard times.  It happens daily, but at least I'm not afraid to admit it.  So, I'll be making a better effort at not comparing myself to these strangers because I can't make amazing sugar cookies, or my house doesn't look as decorated as someone else's, or I don't sew giant costumes for my kids every Halloween. 
 The End

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Birthday Wishes

Today is my beloved birthday, and though it should be all about me...I can't get past how very grateful I am for my parents.  Maybe it's because I have my own little ones now that makes my birthday a little different.  I think about my kids' birthdays and what they mean to me.  I can remember bringing them into this Earth and the emotions I felt that day.  The joy they bring to my life, and the difficulties that come with raising them.  Yes, birthdays are a joyous occasion, but for a  parent they are a day of reflection.  So, today I want to thank my parents.  Thank my mother for carrying me for 9 long months.  Only to go through hours of labor to bring me into this world.  She nourished me and grew me and prayed for my well being while I was simply nothing but a tiny fetus.  She felt my first kicks and hiccups.  She knew me before anyone else did.  To my father, who rubbed my mothers aching feet those 9  months.  He delivered the food she craved and kept her as comfortable as he could.  He placed his hands on my mother's belly to feel me kick.  He spoke to my mom's belly to feel connected to me.  And on the day I was born, he was right there, beside my mom, to see me enter this world.  He kissed my forehead and loved me instantly. 
Mom and Dad, you are the best parents I could ask for.  Thanks you for allowing me to be myself and for loving me unconditionally.  The tears rolling down my face are tears of gratitude.  I can never repay you for all the hard work and patience that raising me took.  I can never tell you thank you enough.  I can never tell you how much I love you, because it just would never add up. So, on my are the reason I'm here, you made me...THANK YOU!!!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Cruisin' with the Salon

This cruise was such an amazing experience.  I am always fascinated by the beauty that surrounds us, and this was just another one of those times where I was in awe.  Catalina was beautiful.  The small town feel, the water, the tiny cars and golf carts, and the history.  We ate the most delicious food at this hole in the wall place called Topless Tacos.  Seriously, the best burrito I have ever had.  Later we went on a little boat ride to a small, Pirate's Cove.  On the boat ride there we were surrounded by dolphins and sea lions.  It was one of my favorite things about the whole trip.  I kid you not, I felt the Spirit there.  It was so peaceful and exciting.  Later, while snorkeling, I was almost attacked by a sea lion.  He got so close, his tail hit my head.  Yes, it scared me half to death, but I couldn't help but laugh myself for being so frightened! 
Ensenada was a little bit of a let down to be honest.  It was dirty and noisy and the constant begging was more than I could take.  We went horseback riding...which was boring.  Worst horseback ride of my life.  The highlight of Ensenada was when we got the yummiest fish tacos!  A dollar each and they were worth way more than that.  Then, once we got into the older part of town, it was really quite beautiful.  The architecture and the small shops.   The beauty of the attention to detail on these older buildings was amazing! 
I can't quite explain how grateful I am for the amazing people my hubby gets to work with.  They are all so talented, and I love them all.  I can't wait for the next salon trip...hopefully sooner than later!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Making Dill Pickles 101

There must be a club out there somewhere who believe that making pickles is hard.  They have spread the word to everyone on the universe and now, everyone just buys their pickles from the store.  Don't get me wrong...the pickles at the store are yummy, but these...are so much yummier!!!  I seemed to have mentioned on social media that I was making pickles one morning and the floods opened.  My friends were dying to know how to make these little green bundles of yumminess.  So I'm obliging. 
A few things before I get started.  You will need a few items before deciding to just randomly make pickles.  You'll need a water bath canner.  That's the giant blue pot I'm using that comes with a metal rack that sits inside.  More than the giant pot, you really need the rack.  You see, if you just place your glass jars at the bottom of a boiling pot of water you'll end up burning what's inside the jars.  Hence, the rack. Also, when you buy this giant pot of goodness, a few other things come inside it.  These are great tools you will need to fetch out the items you place into the pot when it's filled with scalding water. You will also need a few other ingredients.  Dill seed, which you can find in the spices isle at the store. Canning Salt, which is next to the iodized salt.  Canning salt usually just says 'plain salt'.  Reason being...canning salt keeps your brine clear and beautiful.  If you use normal salt you'll end up with a cloudy brine...and that's yucky looking.  You'll also need jars and lids.  If you know nothing about this just comment below and I can help you out.  Let's get started!!!!!
 When making pickles, you must use pickling cucumbers.  These are not the usual cucumbers you find in the grocery store.  They are usually a lot smaller and have little bumps on their skin.  If you used regular cucumbers they would turn to mush after being submerged in liquid hot magma(I mean water and brine).  So, make sure you get the right kind of cucumbers.  They sell them at Costco in bags or you can get them from the farmer's market...which I did!  After washing the cucumbers, cut them into 1/4 inch thick pieces.  I like to place my cut up cucumbers in ice water until I'm ready to shove them into the jars.  Meanwhile, sterilize the jars in the water bath canner.  Once the water comes to a full rolling boil, let the jars boil in the water for 10 minutes.

Get your brine ready!!!  Here's the recipe I use.
Dill Pickle Brine
4 c. water
4 c. white vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. canning salt
Add all ingredients together in a NON-STICK* pot and dissolve together
*This is very important!!! Your brine will be cloudy if you use a metal pot!

 Chop 1-2 heads of garlic.  By heads I mean the whole freakin clump of garlic.  It seems like a lot, I know, but aren't eating the garlic, it's just flavoring the pickles.

 Once the jars are done boiling for 10 minutes in the water bath canner, take them out of the water and add the garlic and dill seed to each jar.  These are large jars and I added about 2 heaping Tablespoons of dill seed to each jar and 1 Tablespoon of garlic to each jar. 

 Next, add the cucumbers.  I really jam these guys in there.  Once the jars are full, leaving about a half an inch of headspace(which just means from the top of the jar measure 1/2 an inch down and don't fill the cucumbers up beyond that), start filling the jars with brine.  You will also want to leave about 1/2 an inch of headspace with the brine too. If the cucumbers come up above the brine just remove some of the cucumbers so the brine covers ALL of the cucumbers. Now is the time to check for air bubbles.  I usually just give them a good tap on the sides with a knife and that does the trick.  If not, run a butter knife down the sides of the jars to release any bubbles.  Now, wipe the top of the jars so there isn't any brine left on the rim.  Take the lids for the jars and submerge them in boiling water for a minute or two.  This will soften the seal on the lids so they will really form around the rim when processed.  After the lids are ready, cover the jars with the lids and screw on the top.  Make sure they are on there really well.

 Put the jars back in the water, making sure the water covers the jars completely!  And I mean all the way above the tippy tops of the jars.  Cover and wait for the water to come back up to a boil.  When the water boils...start the clock!  5 minutes is all the pickles process for.  Make sure the water is boiling the whole time the pickles are processing.

 When the buzzer goes off, remove your jars and set aside to cool.  Don't touch them, turn them, hit them, drool on them, or anything.  Just let them be.  You'll hear the jars pop when they are sealed.  Then, you can write on the tops of the lids and such.  Let them sit for about a week before scarfing them down, they just taste better that way!  If they don't made a boo boo, but don't worry!  Stick them in the fridge and enjoy them after letting them sit for about a week. 
 My rule of thumb is the pickles are good for one year on the shelf, so I write the month and year I made them on the top.  Don't worry though, you'll eat these before that problem!