Thursday, August 1, 2013

Cucumber Pickling Journey

Last year, I remember being quite envious of my friends who shared pics on Facebook of their cucumber harvest and, later, their pickling endeavors. Therefore, I decided to launch my own cucumber/pickling adventure this summer and see what came of it.

Mistake #1--I planted my cucumber seeds the weekend after Mother's Day. Most of my seeds rotted in the ground due to two weeks of cold, overcast weather. No sun.

Exactly three seeds made it, with only two plants producing now. Like a proud parent I was out in my garden nearly every day noting my plants progress. Below is a sprout. I was thrilled!

My first cucumber (it's early stage pictured below) made me nearly dance for joy.

When it came to looking for cucumber recipes, I needed something that didn't require the canning process. I've never done that before and wanted to wait until a friend could coach me through it. I found a recipe for dill pickles that were the refrigerator style and needed no canning.

 So, yesterday I harvested five cucumbers and followed the first part of the instructions. "Wash the cucumbers then place in a container, cover with ice cold tap water and several ice cubes. Cover the container and place inside the refrigerator overnight. The next day do not take the cucumbers out until you are ready to use them." I discovered that by doing this, it kept my cukes firm.

"Peel and thinly slice the garlic cloves. Set aside." I have never bought my own actual garlic, peeled it, or sliced it. Thaaaaat's right. I have always depended on those small refrigerated jars of pre-minced garlic. So this would expand the newness of my endeavors!

After making sure my jars were clean and dry, I followed the next set of instructions. "Bring the vinegar, water and sea salt to a boil. Then add the slices of garlic and mustard seed and continue boiling for another 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside."

"Drain the cukes then slice off both top and bottom." I kept my cukes whole instead of slicing down into spears. The dill, by the way, is fresh from my friend's garden. What an amazing smell comes from this stuff! Do they make dill air fresheners?

Place some fresh dill inside the bottom of the jar then begin arranging the cukes inside the jar. Add layers of cukes and dill, then pour in some of the vinegar mix as you go until you have used up all ingredients." I recycled a jar from my past since that's what I had on hand.

"Cover and allow to cool down to room temperature. Then you can place in fridge." Don't these look cool?! Perhaps those who have done this forever aren't that thrilled.....but I'm a newbie! I feel so domestic!

"Allow  the cucumber/pickles to sit in the fridge for 1 week before eating." WHAT!! How am I supposed to exercise a week's worth of discipline?? My husband doesn't think I'll make it a week. We shall see.

"These dill pickles will keep for 1 month inside the fridge." They make keep that long...but they won't last that long....

My daughter decided to take a rest on the floor while I worked on this recipe. Will I share with my children? Let me think. No.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Half Marathon Training, Wk 1

My husband ran a half marathon this past weekend, and now I'm motivated! So I registered for the Drop 13 Salt Lake-Half Marathon in June. As an additional motivation to the finishers medal, the race is offering another medal to finishers who either drop 13 pounds by race day or drop 13 minutes off of their fastest half marathon time. After much discussion with my husband, I figured I'd try for both options. My fastest half marathon so far (I've run two) is 2 hours 14 minutes. Then, doing the math in my head, in order to lose 13 pounds by race day, I will need to lose 1.85 pounds per week. Doable...but challenging considering my track record for losing pounds.

So, in order to be accountable to something, I will journal my progress each week up to the race on June 15.

Day 1. Monday. April 29. 6am. Training workout--run 6 miles. My husband challenged me to run the first mile at my goal race speed-9 minute miles. I ran it in 8:45. Not bad. Checked my time half way through--27:30. That means I averaged 9:10 for miles 1-3. My finishing time after 6 miles was 56:44. So sub-10's was what I was hoping for. That way, after several weeks of training, perhaps I can get to 9's!

How did I feel? Pretty lousy when I reached mile 4. My lungs and legs ached right around mile 5. During cool-down, my eyes felt like they were bugging out of my head. Strange sensation.'

Overall, I'm pretty happy with those results. Tomorrow.....I dread. It's speed. Yuck.

Day 2. Tuesday. April 30. 6:45am. Training workout--interval sprints at the track. 10 minute jog warm up first. Then 100 yd sprints with 100 yd walk. Do that six times. Then run 400 yds in 2 minutes. Jog 200 yds. Run again 400 yds with 200 yd jog. That process is done six times-each time trying to come in on the runs at 2 minutes exactly. Easier said than done. I did my first 400 in 1:58. The second was at 2:07. The other four were around 2:03 or so. The cool down was supposed to be a 10 minute light jog. I walked.

How did I feel? Worn out, but happy with making it through all six 400's.

Day 3. Wednesday. May 1. Today was supposed to be muscle (shoulders, biceps, and triceps), but I didn't end up doing anything.

Day 4. Thursday. May 2. 6am. Training workout--long run. For me right now, my long run was 8.3 miles. I haven't run that far in several months, but I was hopeful that I could do 10 minute miles. I ran it in a little longer than 10 minute miles. A few dogs charged out of their garage during my run. They seemed pretty upset at first, but then were super excited I was there. The dogs followed me for about 3/4 of a mile and then went home.

It was so cold! 19 degrees when I started! Had one car not make any room for me on the road. Folks like that make me a little mad. Thankfully, they aren't the majority.

How did I feel? Pretty worn out. My knees were stiffening up on the drive home. As always, very happy with my endurance. Lungs felt good until the last mile or so. Legs felt okay. Not too sore. knees really ache.

Day 5. Friday. May 3. 12pm. P90X Shoulders & Arms along with Ab Ripper X.  Weigh in tomorrow sometime.

Day 6. Saturday. May 4. 7am. Attempted a hike/run with Ollie (Cairn terrier I'm dogsitting). Went well until Ollie got some burrs stuck in his fur and he obsessed over them. The hike/run didn't last the 40 minutes I wanted it to. More like 35 minutes.

Weight loss for the week--none. Super discouraging to work my butt off this week and not lose. My husband reminds me that the body resists change....and it really has been just one week.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Piano Playing

I'm very happy that my kiddos seem to have developed an interest in music. Charlotte will baby sing when I'm practicing, and both kids want to climb up on the piano bench as soon as I pull it out. After a time, I became quite good at tuning out their banging on the extra keys while I practiced. It's probably not very pleasant for others in the house who may be listening, but I don't mind it at all. Currently one of my favorite things is to hear Paton sing along with our Galkin CD "By Faith." He has many of them memorized.

When I was young I certainly didn't appreciate the piano lessons like I do now. I didn't realize that God would put me in a place where all those years of practicing would come in handy! Though I'm certainly not exceptionally strong at "hymn-provising," each Sunday I do play for our congregational singing. You should have seen my hands shake the first Sunday I took over this duty.

My husband has already declared that our children will take music lessons. They will learn the discipline of following through on an obligation as well as sitting and focusing on a project. I also want it to be fun for them. I at least want them to appreciate music. To be at least well-rounded.

Anyway, this little piano was a gift for the kids from my mom and they both love playing!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bell Ringer

This was Paton's first Easter to play the bells! When Miss Vicki told him that he was old enough to be a bell ringer, Paton nearly shook with excitement.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Nerds and Free Spirits Unite!

That's the title of Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide to Money, and it was the lesson that really impacted me during Ramsey's nine week "Financial Peace University."

My husband led this little group which consisted of folks from our church and folks from the community. Our common interest was our desire to handle our money correctly and not let our money handle us.

The classes were amazing, but the lesson that really stuck with me was the lesson about my free-spiritedness. Before the class, my interest in our finances were limited to "how are we financially?" and "can I use a bit to get clothes for the kids?", etc. And I was completely fine with that. But since Dave strongly encouraged us as a couple to have monthly budget meetings and spend mostly in cash, I had to bite the bullet and take part in our finances.

The part that made me laugh out loud was one of the rules for the Free Spirits--"You can never again say these six words: 'Whatever you want to do, honey.' That's a cop-out. You've got to stick in there and make the budget work together." That's totally me! I was completely fine with Greg making all the decisions. But now I give input and am encouraged to make changes to the budget.

Mind you, I'm sure I gleaned more from this than Greg (the nerd in our family). He went through Ramsey's book a few years ago and was doing our finances in a wise way. It was me to had to do the changing! I needed to become more aware of where our money was going...more than just the grocery money.

I feel empowered now. If something were to ever happen to Greg, I wouldn't be left in complete financial ignorance.

Definitely worth the time and money to do this nine-week course.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgivings Past

At this moment, the house is really clean, the children are getting tired, Daddy is outside chopping wood, and Mommy is pooped from cleaning and cooking in preparation for Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. As I was de-shelling eggs for deviled eggs, memories of past Thanksgivings came to me. Where were we over the last eight Thanksgiving holidays? So, onward and backward we go!

My sixth grade class, 6D, came up with this activity of dividing into two teams and writing on the chalkboard all the things they were thankful for. I think I timed them. There also was a little Thanksgiving party we'd have and my wonderful room mother would help w/ the food and organization. I was always blessed with wonderful room moms. They really made me, as the teacher, feel special.

Again, our second Thanksgiving together was my second year teaching. Below is what my room mother brought in to help us celebrate! A bunch of cupcakes are frosted like a turkey. Creative...

During Thanksgiving break, Greg and I drove to GA to be with Greg's family. I think they had just moved into this house. Below is a pic that proves Big Dog does help in the kitchen!

My mother in law makes her own window treatments. In fact, when we moved into our first home, she made all of my window treatments! Big Dog and Greg playing something....probably Madden football.

Our first Thanksgiving in our own home was our third year married. We had moved into this house in Greenville and had my family and Greg's family in for Thanksgiving.

Below are the two moms in my life.

My hubby and Dad cutting up the turkey. Thaaaat's right, they're using my washer and dryer for extra counter space.

Family pic! I cannot tell you the complaints I got when I wanted to take this. I like preserving memories...sue me! My brother in law and sister in law are on the far right. This was before any of us had children.

Was very grateful to the men for putting lights on my house!

Unfortunately, I did not take pictures of our last Thanksgiving in SC and our first Thanksgiving in MO. I'm pretty sure we were in GA for our last one in the South, and then at the Christensen's house for our first one in MO. So....2 year gap here.

Our second and final Thanksgiving in MO my inlaws flew in. We also picked up Grandma Baker from Kansas City so that she could be with family for the holiday. Football is a must for the Greg and I had to go outside and throw around the football before partaking the feast.

Greg and his dad spend an enormous amount of time raking up and bagging the wretched gumballs in our yard. The truck behind Greg is filled to the brim!
  We still had Dolly then.

Our first Thanksgiving in UT we were invited to be with the Goninos. My inlaws were here for this holiday and they came with us to the Goninos. We were asked to bring a few things, so I made sure to take a picture of our dessert creation.

Last Thanksgiving was spent in Colorado. We drove from here to my parents' house and enjoyed a few days with them as well as my brother and his wife from SC. My parents had chickens at the time, and Paton loved to go with Grampa to collect the eggs.

Dad used his smoker to smoke the turkey. Yum!

  We were happy to see my brother and his wife for the holiday. They live all the way across the country so we don't get to see them often. Paton is covered with blankets b/c he wasn't feeling well toward the tail end of the trip.

Above is my hunter husband. My dad and Greg spend a few hours hunting down coyotes from the property. Those coyotes attacked my parents' dogs a few months back, so both men had a grand time shooting at them.

And this Christmas was spent with a family from our church as well as a family from SLC. All of our kids are right around the same age and what is more fun than a house full of kids on Thanksgiving Day?!

I do have much to be thankful for. But I try to remember those things more than just one day a year. God is continually blessing our family and ministry here in UT. I love so much where He has us now!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

In the last month...

So much has happened in the last month since I last wrote. Our church's annual Harvest Hoedown was the last Saturday in September. We enjoyed food, fellowship, games, and pumpkin carving! The next week I turned 31 the same day we traveled to SC and GA for 10 days. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of our trip...except 1.

This was the day of the SC vs. GA game...such a tough loss for us. Anyway, Charlotte is wearing a pillow dress that a lady in my mother-in-law's church made. Super cute!

Our reason for traveling to the South was to recruit summer camp staff for Pioneer Bible Camp. Bob Jones University holds a Summer Ministry Recruitment Conference each year, and camps around the country are invited to come in the hopes of recruiting workers. There were at least 30 other ministries looking for workers, but despite the large group, we were thrilled that the Lord brought us some great contacts! We returned home October 12.

The next week I had the opportunity to attend a pastor's wives retreat for a few days and had a wonderful time of fellowship and spiritual refreshment. Since that meant that Greg was home with the kids, I did my best to find sitters so he could get some things done while I was gone (sermon prep and the like).

This morning has been a little rough. Charlotte is struggling w/ a pink eye variety and Paton threw up all over himself. So, needless to say, we're staying home from AWANA this evening.

We got a terrific snow storm yesterday! The before pic and the during pic are below!

Paton was so excited about the snow that he begged me to go outside with him and build a snowman. I bundled him up and away we went!

I had to bribe him to come inside later since both of us were soaked due to the wet, heavy snow that came down while we were outside.