Friday, August 31, 2012

Nana's Little Cowgirls

We're visiting Shawn's parents this week and the girls always love riding Cheyenne. K-girl and K-sis rode by themselves without Nana holding the lead rope and K-girl even loved trotting. I'm sure I'll be spending lots of time out by the corrals this week watching my girls enjoying their special friend!

Monday, August 20, 2012


I'm starting on my two day checklist for all the things I need to accomplish before the girls and I head to Kansas. Shawn was wondering what I was going to do today! The girls are helping out with some chores too and we're all playing with my friend's cute toddler who we are babysitting today.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

KS, MN, MO and OK

What do all these states have in common?

They all have part of our family currently in it, having fun this week.

K-man is in Kansas and Missouri this week with my parents and brother's family. I heard that today he played Wii  and adult strategy games with Uncle Ken and Aunt Staci, played with his cousins and also watched NASCAR. Tomorrow morning he heads to Branson with Nana Kristi and Papa Tom for a 5 day trip.

K-girl is with Shawn's parents and Shawn's brother's family in Kansas. Friday night she got to stay at a hotel and swim in the pool with Papa Bruce. On Saturday, she got to see her great grandpa and help work on his house then spend the night with Uncle Eric, Aunt Theresa and all the cousins. On Sunday, she played with all her cousins and then got a airplane ride home with Papa (they landed in Oklahoma), rode horses with Nana Yvette and ended the day by jumping in their hot tub.

I'm thinking my kids may not want to come home. :)

The rest of us are working hard in MN. The girls have been busy playing with the neighborhood kids all weekend. Shawn and I have been busy canning salsa and diced tomatoes and freezing onions. Then we all enjoyed ending our weekend at the park for a potluck and kickball game with friends.

I don't have any pictures from the big kids or grandparents yet, but I always love sharing food preservation pictures.

 After LOTS of chopping we ended up with 32 jars of salsa and 3 1/2 gallon bags of diced onion.

 A close up of the Salsa! It is SOOO yummy and we saved lots of money this year because we used all of our banana peppers and hot peppers from our garden, and the onions were ready at the same time which worked out great. I only used one recipe this year (last year I used 3) from the ball canning book. I'm hoping this will last us all winter long!

 Earlier this summer I found a few minutes of free time to sew a new apron for myself. A girl can never have too many aprons, especially when you are in the kitchen as much as I am (or cook as messy as I do!).

I also canned 16 quarts of diced tomatoes and 1 quart.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bicycles and Butterflies

Can you imagine what my beautiful, safety conscious, slow pedaling, loves to brake on her bike girl did today? 

 She decided she wanted to ride without training wheels and boy did she figure it out fast!

She's usually very causious and goes very slowly on her bike and I wasn't sure she would pedal fast enough to be able to balance without the training wheels on, but she did it! We only had one minor crash which required a bandaid on the knee, but other than that she just took off and did it.

After biking in the morning we packed a quick snack to go for lunch and headed out the the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center to tag Monarch Butterflies. We've done this in past years and the kids always seem to enjoy it. We sure missed the big kids, but the little girls had lots of fun!

 Posing with their nets.

 K-sis showing off her first butterfly. It was a boy.

 K-baby showing off the two monarchs we caught in one net. She was sure to hold the net closed tight so they wouldn't escape.

 Mrs. Stoddard telling us about Monarchs! You can tell she has a passion for sharing nature with kids.

 K-sis learning how butterflies taste with their legs. I didn't know that.

 K-baby getting ready to release her Monarch. We're hoping that our butterflies make it all the way to Mexico and get caught again so we can learn how far they flew!

We tagged 4 butterflies and plan to go back sometime before we head to KS to try tagging again. We would have had a few more, but I wasn't very good at dropping the net on them while trying not to damage the butterfly or plant. 

I'm so glad that we are able to get out and do so many FREE, FUN activities with our kids and I consider this educational too!

Corn, Zucchini and Broken Dishes

Tomorrow, I'm refusing to enter my kitchen! The past two days I've spent quite a few hours putting up food for our family. CSA summer harvest events always keep me busy, but I love that I don't have to buy many vegetables all winter long. I finally stopped baking today when I ran out of bread pans and cookie sheets because they were all dirty.

 On Monday the girls helped me pick a 5 gallon bucket of onions, 10 dozen ears of corn, basil and I managed to snag a few free caulrobi and 2 cucumbers.

 Shucking corn takes time and makes a huge mess and I managed to preview the movie Swiss Family Robinson while doing this. I love multitasking! Now K-man and I just have to finish reading the book and we can watch the movie together. I also managed to catch up on quite a few Focus On The Family broadcasts while I was cooking. I'm always amazed at all the different content they offer and how much practical advice they give.

 All the corn cut off the cob. I got a new cutter from Pampered Chef this year that made cutting the kernels off the cob a bit easier. I wouldn't say the tool is necessary, but I think it helped things go faster and I only cut myself a few times.

 I ended up freezing 60 cups of plain corn and 52 cups of cream corn. 
Then I got 2 dozen more ears in my CSA box today. I choose not to look at them, but maybe I'll be in the mood tomorrow.

 I also shredded all the zucchini that I had in the house. I cooked with a bunch of it, but I still ended up with 30 cups for the freezer. I'm sure I'll be checking my sister-in-law's blog for cooking ideas because her family loves zucchini. I also made a gallon zip loc bag of zucchini tots from a Pinterest recipe and froze them. The little girls liked them so I'm hoping to use those up this winter.

 My stand-up freezer is starting to look pretty full. I still had some pumpkin, squash and tomato sauce from last year, but every thing else is from this year (except the beef in the bottom drawer and the Popsicles in the door).
 Yummy chocolate zucchini muffins. These all went into the freezer for breakfast or snacks during homeschool.

I ran out of muffin tins so I used the rest of the chocolate zucchini muffin mix to make mini loafs. I also made three chocolate chip zucchini bread loafs and froze them.

I cooked up a whole bag of brown rice in my rice cooker and froze it in 3 cup portions, but I didn't get a picture of that. I love being able to pull a bag out of the freezer and pop it on the stove with a little water to have a quick side dish for any meal.

 Seriously, I didn't have a single clean casserole dish, bread pan or muffin tin left in my house and boy were these fun to clean up at the end of the day.

 Lest, you think I totally neglected my children, this was their lunch plate. We're always heavy on the veggies during CSA season. We had zucchini tots, caulobi, creamed corn, cucumbers, apples and peaches.

 The girls managed to drag quite a bit of stuff out of the garage to play house in the front yard. Good thing our neighbors love us. We've been having beautiful weather every day in the 70s, so they've been outside a lot. They were also excited that I let each of them pick a video from the library and they watched both of them already.

They also played some in the backyard with the pool and slide. K-sis felt the need to wear her new velvet dress for the occasion, but switched to a swimsuit after she filled the pool with freezing cold water. 

The girls also talked me into painting nails this afternoon when my feet were aching and I was ready to sit down. It's never a one color task around our house either, they always like using multiple colors and then adding glitter on top. I'll have to redo my sometime because I scrubbed half of my polish off doing dishes tonight. 

I only broke two things while cooking the past day and a half. I dropped one of my salt shakers (full) and it shattered all over the place and then later in the day I broke one of my glass storage dishes that came with a lid. I think sweeping the floor 4 times yesterday was a new record for me, because I also cut Shawn's hair and had swept that morning. 

Now all I have left is that big bucket of onions, but I'm thinking they'll keep in the garage for a few days. I'm hoping to save some to make salsa this weekend if the tomatoes are ready out at Bluebird Gardens.

Tomorrow = leftovers!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Camping at Itasca State Park

 My father retired this year and so my parents have been on the road with their RV this summer. We were excited to be on their route and had a blast camping up at Itasca State Park for three nights. We've only lived in MN for three years and we hadn't made it up to this area of our beautiful state yet, so we enjoyed exploring a new area.
I'm not sure you can call staying in my parent's RV camping, but this is definitely my kind of camping.

 We enjoyed a fire and smores each night.

 The girls can do gymnastics anywhere. They used this parking marker for a balance beam while we were at our camping site.

 The park had some beautiful views along their biking and hiking trails. The pristine lakes were amazing!

 The kids had a blast!

 There were some steps.

 Our mass of bicycles. 
We rented an extra trail-a-bike to take a long bike ride down one of the longer trails to the visitor's center.

 My favorite puppeteer.

 The kids used natural items and glue guns to make boats to float in the lake.

 K-man's boat.

 Of course we had to take a picture at the headwaters of the Mighty Mississippi.

 Shawn helped the big kids manuver across the rocks at the headwaters.

 We also crossed over the river on a log.

 The big kids loved biking every where!

 K-baby loves the trail-a-bike. I definitely got my moneys worth when I spent $40 at a garage sale a few years ago to buy one.

 Playing on the beach.

 more biking

 Posing by our bikes before a ride.

 My parents and the kids.

 The huge pine trees that were saved in the park were truely an amazing part of God's creation that loved viewing.
 My parents with the kids along the scenic drive.

 My mom with the kids in front of the fire tower. 

We are not heights people so my brave mom took two of my kids up to the top of the fire tower. The younger two wanted to go too, but I wouldn't let them go all the way to the top. You are only allowed to have 6 people at a time climbing the tower and you could hear it swaying sometimes. I was glad to take pictures and video from the ground. When you reach halfway you are at the tops of the trees! CRAZY!