Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Freezing Our Garden Tomatoes

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Last week Billy (aka: LW [Little Wiliam]) got to spend the night at Nana's house which left Hubs and I childless for a whole night! Oh the possibilities. We relived our first date - sushi and ice cream. Feeling extra romantic, naturally we spent the rest of the evening....FREEZING OUR TOMATOES.

Haha. Gotcha. You thought I was going to be inappropriate.
In all seriousness, our garden has EXPLODED with veggies this year - it's been amazing! I knew we wouldn't be able to eat all of the tomatoes before they spoiled but didn't want to put the effort into canning this year so I opted to freeze them. Here's how I did it:

Start by boiling a big@ss pot of water - I used my "Super Pot" aka slow cooker. It boils water pretty quickly.

Then, I scored the bottom of all of the tomatoes with an X and dropped them into the boiling water for 10-15 seconds.

From there, they immediately went into the ice bath and were strained.
 Bill then peeled and cored all tomatoes and handed them back to me.

I chopped them up and weighed them all – each freezer bag was filled with 28oz of tomatoes. The perfect amount for a batch of chili :)
 
Then ta-da! They were done and ready for the freezer in about 20 minutes.
My mistake was freezing them wherever they fit in the freezer. I wish I had thought to lay them flat on a half sheet pan first to freeze them flat – it would have made storing them much easier. Now they're all awkwardly shaped and will be difficult to store. Luckily, chili season is nearly upon us!

How do you make the most of your garden veggies?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Why I Go To Church

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I'm sure you're reading the title of this post thinking, "Because God is good." - I mean, that's why most people go to church, isn't it?

I agree, God is good. All the time. But this week while I sat in the pew listening to my pastor's sermon I took a deep breath. Probably the first one I had taken in a week. I'm about to say something bold...

I go to church to get away from life. 

Don't get me wrong, my life is wonderful, beautiful and about as close to rainbows and unicorns as you can get... but sometimes I just need to breathe.

I go to church to listen to adults speak. I go to church to breathe for an hour, without a toddler tugging on my hands and arms and ears. I go to church to unwind and for an hour a week, I can have time to just be. I don't owe anyone a meal. I don't have to teach anyone life skills. I can just sing along to songs I have kept in my heart for years. I can drift into a state of consciousness that wonders and wishes.

Many days I pray throughout the day. I hear tidbits of news stories or receive texts from friends with good news and bad, and as the days progress I pray throughout. I don't go to church to pray. I go to church to think.

Of course, church is filled with other joys and concerns of the community which help encourage me to get involved or learn more about those around me. But really, I'm selfish. Sometimes I don't want to get involved, and sometimes I can't bear the weight of others. I just want an hour to escape and think. Once I have thought, I feel rejuvenated and ready to get involved.

I think I had a lightbulb moment this week. They call it a "sanctuary" for a reason.

Why do you go to church? 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Toddler FOMO

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Billy has a condition. In toddlers it is pretty normal, but not everyone has a name for it. Hubs and I call it "FOMO" – Fear Of Missing Out. 

Does your child suffer from FOMO? Here are some signs:

1. Toddler sleeps through noises like dishes clattering and vacuums running, however wakes and will not go back to sleep for days on end if the doorbell rings once. 
2. Toddler will sit in the car quietly when in traffic, however yells uncontrollably from the back seat when in line for fast food. 

3. Nothing outside is interesting until you want to sit on the couch, then Toddler must climb over your face to look out the window. 
4. Toddler is not hungry/will not eat food provided, until Parent begins to eat. Then, Toddler mauls Parent for every crumb they're eating. 
5. Similar to food, no TV show is worth watching to Toddler unless Parent is ready to watch a grown-up show. Or, mealtime. 

6. Packing material is disinteresting until Parent needs to use it for something, or throw it away. Then, it's warrior armor. 
7. Dogs are more fun when they're sleeping. 
8. Sharing is stupid, until his friend is about to steal his car. 
9. Toys are more fun to play with when Parent is about to put them all away.
10. Last, but not least, NEVER NAP ON VACATION. Anything could happen while Toddler is sleeping, so better just stay awake as to not miss a beat.

So, what do you think? Does your toddler suffer from "FOMO"??

Friday, August 1, 2014

Giveaway: Water Ring Sling

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This summer I've been a very busy bee! I've been sewing tons of water and linen ring slings for my friends. Don't worry, I'm not selling any. I only sew for people I know and they only reimburse me for cost of materials. I just love giving the gift of sewing to my friends! 

I've donated one to a local Facebook Group I am a member of and they wanted to host the giveaway on my blog! Enter below to win a red mesh water ring sling sewn by yours truly! Perfect for the pool, ocean or lake.

Here is Billy and I in our blue swim ring sling earlier this summer. We love it!! After about an hour in the pool he is ready to take a snooze and the mesh ring sling is perfect for just that.


  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 21, 2014

Door to Door Organics: Chicago

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I have been on a mission this year to support more local businesses.

I debated for a while about joining a CSA for a local farm to receive local produce...then I wanted to support local livestock farms as well for meat and dairy, and before I knew it I was $1,150 deep in supporting local for groceries and had more than I knew what to do with. So before I clicked "order" I took a step back and a friend told me about Door to Door Organics.

It is a box delivery service that gives you the option to receive all local, fresh produce, meat and dairy without needing to buy the whole cow - literally.

We have received one box so far and I'm hooked! Not only is this supporting local agriculture, it's helping me expand my cooking knowledge base! Here is a shot of the contents of our first box + some extras I added.

For under $30 every other week (weekly option is available) we receive this big bundle of produce. It changes every delivery based on what is available and in-season from our local farmers. Our first box (pictured) we received, cilantro, red onions, zucchini squash, cucumber, fennel, collard greens, rainbow chard, collard greens and kale. I added local bacon and Billy's local whole milk to our delivery as well.

I had so much fun learning how to prepare all of these new foods! And learning what to sub out for next time (No thanks on the fennel - not for us!).

Unfortunately, the chard expired before I was able to cook with it. The box arrived on Thursday and we had a wedding Fri & Sat to attend so I just couldn't get the most out of this produce in time.

However, the rest of the produce lasted REALLY well and was absolutely delicious. The greens all had dirt on them. Like, real dirt. That came from the ground. It was so awesome to see and know how fresh our food was.

I used this recipe for kale chips and have officially become an addict. I usually love to have a salty snack while I watch TV in the evenings when coffee toffee ice cream isn't stocked in my freezer (I'm only human) but kale chips are my new favorite snack. They were light, crunchy and deliciously satisfying. Not to mention all that folic acid, amiright?!
The bacon was unbelievable. I will not be buying commercial bacon any more, the extra cost for supporting local farmers is so minimal when the result is this quality! I've added it again to my order this week and can't wait to receive it!!!

This week our order looks something like this:
That much organic, local produce, meat and dairy for that price tag makes me feel pretty great. Knowing I am feeding my family the best possible quality and supporting local at the same time makes me feel so warm and fuzzy.

If you're looking for a great way to source local produce, meat and dairy, check into D2DO and see if they have a chapter around you!

**This post was not sponsored by Door to Door Organics and at the time of publication I did not receive any kind of monetary support. These opinions are strictly my own. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Easiest-Ever Triple Berry Pie

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Did you know berry pie is ridiculously easy to make?! And REALLY delicious?! I did not, until I tried baking one this weekend.
This is all you need:

5-6 cups frozen berries (I used the Costco triple berry blend)
1/2C sugar
6T corn starch
1C water
2 prepared pie crusts
1 egg, beaten

I simply put the berries and sugar into a medium sauce pan and warmed them up on medium heat. Then, I made a slurry with the corn starch and water. Once the berries were barely bubbling I stirred in the corn starch/water slurry and left the berries to simmer for about 10 minutes.

Lay one pie crust out into your pie pan, poke holes with a fork. Add berries and the other pie crust on top, cutting slits to vent the pie. Crimp the edges and egg wash the top. Bake at 400ยบ for about an hour - until the crust is golden and berries are bubbling. HOLY COW IS IT DELICIOUS.

It's taking all of my self control to not eat this pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I would have taken a photo sooner, but...life and stuff. Enjoy!!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Jamberry!

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News update: I am now an Independent Consultant for Jamberry! 
I got sick of having to schedule my manicures and pedicures around when I had three hours to leave the house. Plus, with dry time it meant I wouldn't be able to clean anything up or do a dish for an entire day...so that meant going out to eat to prevent dishes from piling up and frankly I'd had enough! When I discovered Jamberry Nail Wraps my idea of mani/pedis was forever changed. Now I can give myself a mani/pedi in minutes with no dry time! Check out all the fun patterns and learn all about Jamberry on my official Jamberry website: http://jessbedsole.jamberrynails.net/ 

If you'd like to host a party, reach out to me! I would love to help you earn free nail wraps and other great hostess rewards. Online or in-home, Jamberry Parties are fun for all the ladies in your life!