Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Backyard Apple Butter

It's the first of September and so I feel I can comfortably say HAPPY FALL!!!!
(I know for my Florida readers that is a bit of a stretch ;) 
So, in celebration of fall I am sharing my Backyard Apple Butter recipe.  This recipe is easy and delicious and pretty close to fool proof.  With the rather large crop of backyard apples we harvested last week, I needed to find a great apple butter recipe.  After looking around at several recipes, my mom and I came up with one of our own - kind of a mixture of several different ones.  You make it in the crockpot all day so the most time-consuming part is peeling and cutting up the apples.  Here's what you will need... 

3 quarts of apples - peeled, cored, and diced
fresh lemon juice
3 cups of sugar
1 cup of apple cider
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
5-6 whole cloves in a bag
freshly ground nutmeg - to taste

Begin by peeling and cutting up the apples into about 1 inch pieces. Grab a cup of coffee and invite a friend over (or smile sweetly at your husband) - because this process takes a little time. 

Occasionally squeeze fresh lemon juice over the apple pieces to keep them from getting brown and mushy.
Once you have about 3 quarts of apples, 

pour the apple cider into the crockpot and turn it on high.  
Add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and the bag of cloves (I used muslin to make the bag)

Stir this well and let it cook on high for 2 hrs.  

After 2 hrs, turn it down to low for 5 hrs.   
Then, remove the lid and let it simmer on "keep warm" or a VERY low setting for 2-3 hrs.

REMOVE the clove bag, using tongs, and using an immersion blender, 
blend the apples until they are lovely and thick and sticky.  

(so...I forgot to remove the clove bag the first batch, and blended it up with my apples...whoops.  I think I'll keep that batch and just try to notice fabric pieces on my toast and pick them off - lol).

If you don't have an immersion blender (they are GREAT by the way) you can ladle small amounts of the hot apples into a blender and blend it up (leaving the lid vented just a little for the steam).  Once the apples have been blended into butter, boil about 2 inches of water in a pot and put your lids in to sterilize.  Fill the sink with HOT HOT water and place your jars in the water.  Spoon the apple butter into the hot jars.  Wipe the rim with a clean paper towel and place the lid on - screw into place.  Turn the jars upside down for about 30 minutes - then back to right side up.  Let them sit overnight to finish curing.  There you have it!

Yummy homemade apple butter!  Give it away as a gift, or drizzle it onto your oatmeal or toast.  Happy fall!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Printable Thank you card

 Here's a little thank you card I made - specifically to use after Charlotte's party 
(hence the enchanting fairy). 
but I think it could be a cute thank you card anytime. 
I downloaded the fairy graphic here (LOVE her site).   
You can download my printable card right here (there are 2 on a page). 
I cut it down to a folded square 4 1/4" x 4 1/4".  
Then I let the glitter spirits move me. 

I LOVE that glue pen - it has such a fine tip - you can add the tiniest amount of glitter.  It doesn't come out in globs.  You can buy one here.  
Have fun sending your friends enchanted thank you cards!
Have a fairy good day - jessica

please use my printable goodies for personal use only and not for sale

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"check out the hook while my d.j. revolves it..."

Today I have my massage therapy hat on and we are going to talk about ice.  Can I just tell you that I HATE ICE.  I don't like it in my drinks - I don't like it on my body - I don't like it on the road.  I like to look at the ice outside my window while wrapped in a blanket.  I like the feel of ice underneath my ice skates - while the rest of me is cozy in a hat, scarf, and sweater.  Now - that being said - ice is the cheapest and one of the most effective treatments for acute and chronic pain.  Why?
  • It reduces inflammation
  • It breaks the pain cycle (when the nerves become numb they stop sending the pain signal to the brain, which gives the muscle and nerves a chance to relax and heal)
  • It is free
  • It is not difficult to use
  • There are very few contraindications (people who can't use it)
Seems like a no-brainer right?  but...most people don't like ice.  

Charlotte's Boo Boo Buddy which she calls the "cold basketball"
(I keep it in the freezer).   You can buy one here.

Most people like heat.  Mmmmmm...it's so cozy with a heating pad lying on your shoulders, relaxing your muscles, as you watch your favorite movie...but you might be doing more harm than good.  Heat can be effective, BUT if your injury has any inflammation - the heat will make it worse. 
That is what heat does - it brings fresh, oxygenated blood to the area which can help with healing if the muscle is ischemic (lacking blood).  If heat feels good on your injury - here is the best way to use it.  Alternate heat with ice and always end your treatment with ice. 
Example: start with 10 minutes of ice, then 10 minutes of MOIST heat (like a microwaveable rice pack), then 10 minutes of ice.  The contrast of cold and hot is actually very effective at healing muscular injuries.
* Never use heat on an acute injury until you have been to a doctor - use ice.* 
If you are still struggling with the thought of a bag of frozen mixed vegetables on your neck (a popular substitute for an ice pack) this may help -

the "ice" doesn't have to be frozen water - a cool washcloth can be very effective as well.  So give it a try - you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain - relief from pain!
be well today, my friends

p.s. I am a Licensed Massage Therapist MA50989 and not an M.D.  If you are unsure of how to treat an injury please consult your Primary Care Physician.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Dress

Here is the info on Charlotte's Party Dress:

Pattern:  The Handmade Dress - Miss Lily
Fabric:  Amy Butler - Love: Paradise Garden, Periwinkle

Thursday, August 26, 2010

*Guest Post Thursday* - King of Consignment

Today we are going to learn a thing or two from my hubby.  
I will brag for a moment - he gets more deals and free things than anyone I have ever known.  Here are a few examples of things he has acquired for free:

baby grand piano
toyota camry
2 pottery kilns

I'm not kidding.  Isn't that crazy!!?!  Well, in addition to being a magnet for amazing free things, he also has a knack for finding great deals at thrift and consignment stores.  Want to know his secrets?
Here they are:

1. Go often - Thrift stores are very hit or miss. Find a few stores to frequent.  Often some stores are great for certain items but they never stock other items you want

2.  Don’t buy it just because it’s cheap - Only buy an item if you know you will use/wear it.

3.  Only buy things in good condition - A shirt that looks old and dingy is not cool and vintage; it is old and dingy.  If it does not fit right or has stains/tears/discoloring/needs repair - do not buy it. 

4.  Value and quality are important - $3 pair of Lucky Brand Jeans is a better value than buying a $3 pair of no name brand jeans

5.  Shop with specific items in mind - This eliminates the likelihood of buying things you don’t need and usually makes the trip quicker.  You won’t be overwhelmed as easily.

Here are some of my recent thrift store finds:

Wolverine Hiking Boots - Brand new @ wolverine.com $190
Brand new at Goodwill - $6

Shimano cycling shoes - Brand new price - $75-150
Barely used at Salvation Army - $1

Steve Madden casual shoes - $ 65-100
Barely used at Goodwill - $3

Perry Ellis portfolio dress pants - $45-60
New condition - $ 2
Quality dress shirts - $ 25-90
New condition - $1-5

Thanks Ryan!  We all like to learn how to stretch a buck or two.  Most of his clothes come from thrift stores, and because he shops for only quality items, you would never be able to tell. 
*BONUS TIP*  For finding free goodies he suggests joining freecycle.org or looking on the "free" section of your local craigslist.org
What are some of the best deals you've ever found at a thrift/consignment store?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Enchanted Animal Hide and Seek

Here are the printables from the game we played at the birthday party - it's also a great game to be played inside on a rainy day.  Simply print out the large animals and cut them out.  I had fun embellishing mine with glitter...but that's not necessary of course.  Then print out the page of small animals.  While your little one is sleeping (or watching Super Why) you can hide the animals all over the house or outside depending on the weather.  I just attached them to branches and bushes using clothespins.

This is NOT an original idea - this lovely lady came up with it as a bird watching game - you can go here to download that version.  Have fun!

Get Your Game on...

Bison and Beef Meatloaf:
Are you curious?  We were at Earth Fare this week, and they had ground bison meat on sale.  We were planning on making a meatloaf anyway, so we (my mom and I) decided to make it half ground bison meat and half ground grass-fed beef.  
 Why?  Here are some of the health benefits to eating bison meat.
You get more bang for your nutritional buck:  
* more PROTEIN and less CALORIES and FAT than beef and pork.
example: 3oz of bison meat has 143 calories and 2.4 grams of fat.  3 oz of lean beef has 211 calories and 10 grams of fat - pretty big difference! 
(you can learn more about that here.)
* great source of iron, zinc, B6, and B12.
When cooking bison, you have to be careful not to overcook it - because it has less fat, it can dry out quickly.  This is why we combined it with beef - the fat from the beef will keep your meatloaf moist.
Here is the recipe (feeds 4 adults):
3/4 lb of ground beef
3/4 lb of ground bison
3/4 cup of oatmeal
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 small onion - chopped
3/4 of a can of tomato sauce
celery salt (to taste)
salt and pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup Ketchup
2 T of Brown Sugar
1 T of Worchestershire
Sit the meat in the sink, and let it come to room temperature.   Preheat your oven to 350. 
Mix all of the ingredients for the meatloaf in a bowl. 
 Line a loaf pan with tin foil (easy cleanup) and put the meaty mixture into the pan.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then put the sauce on top and bake for 5 more minutes.  Let it cool for 3-5 minutes before slicing.  We ate this meatloaf with fried apples and acorn squash - a really healthy, hearty meal!
 Have you ever tried bison?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Enchanted Forest Party - Charlotte Turns 2

Hello! I hope you all had a lovely weekend!  Ours was fantastic - the party was great.  

We had beautiful weather (which was such a blessing because our AC stopped working and so we had to have the entire party outside).  Here are all the pics - later in the week, I will post a few DIY's from the party.  Enjoy!
We began by coloring our butterflies and caterpillars for the toadstool craft.
After we finished that project, we made some music!
The next activity was an Enchanted Animal Hide and Seek.  
 I had printed several pictures of animals and hidden them all around the yard.  The girls had a sheet of paper with small pics of all the animals, and when they found one, they had to circle it on their paper.  We walked up to the apple trees first.
When we reached the apple trees, we all sat down for a story - 
read by Charlotte's Momma J.
Then we continued our search for enchanted animals as we walked toward the wishing well.
We read another story there, and then each of the girls got to make a wish and throw magic wishing dust (sanding sugar) into the well.
Then it was time to eat!  All of the girls ate in the screened in porch under the magical fairy tent.
They had strawberries, "snail sandwiches" (pbj tortilla spirals), bunny snacks, and strawberry  milk.
(yeah...my mom made that amazing toadstool - more on that later)
The mommy and daddy food (and cupcakes) was over on the deck.
 We had strawberries, snail sandwiches ( cream cheese, spinach, and turkey), and "schroomy" cheese and crackers.
Then it was time for toadstool cupcakes!
It's good to be two.
and then all of the girls made their party favors - 
they had bags in their little buckets that they filled up with candy from the candy bar.
When the bags were full, we clipped them in the middle with a clothespin, 
to make them look like butterflies.
 It truly was an enchanting day.

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