Friday, December 17, 2010

Hats...& Fruit Leather!

First off, I don't know about you, but I have been feeling very overwhelmed, by the MANY different hats that a mom has to wear.
First there's the wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt and friend HATS.
Then, the clean the house, bake, decorate the house in Christmas cheer, make holiday goodies, attend Christmas programs, etc...HATS,
then that of church callings, plan the Sacrament Meeting Christmas program, visiting teacher, remember everyone's birthdays, write thoughtful thank you notes HATS
and then trying to capture the joy of your kids through photographs, put your house back together, help your hubby with home improvement projects, blogging and email correspondence HATS...and well, the list just keeps going on and on.
(In fact, the joke at Tracy's work has been, when people ask them if they're ready for Christmas..."Yeah, the wife's got that taken care of"! (smile)

Most days lately, when it comes to what hat I'm wearing it is my most favorite thing in the world....
that HAT of being wife and mom!
SO, if you find me not wearing a HAT that you would like me to be wearing, I apologize, but January soon will be here and with that comes
10 days off from work in a row...
life will be organized and my normal routines of what people are used to will be returning in full force!!

Yay... I can honestly say
I miss Kimmie & all of her many hats..can't wait to be wearing them all again!!

HOWEVER, during the busy holiday season, I thought I would take a quick moment to respond to many responses I have had about my Super Saturday Presentation I did last month. My current ward calling (local congregation) is that of
"Emergency Preparedness and Food Storage Specialist".
I am responsible for giving monthly info/recipes on anything that goes along with these two topics to the sister's in our ward.

My biggest project this year
for my calling was gathering recipes from the sisters in our ward and typing them and organizing them into a binder. Even though it was more work than I intended it to be, it was such a success and I had many thankful women who are thrilled to have new tried and true recipes to try this next coming year.

I am also required to do a presentation/demonstration at our yearly Super Saturday Relief Society event.
This year, I struggled with what I could share, so I reflected on three of the big things that I learned this summer from our three months of no shopping.
First, I shared that no matter how prepared you are with your food storage, you never have three months worth of Tortillas and so I had dough there to show them how easy it was to roll out and make your own homemade tortillas.
Second, I shared that you never have three months worth of hoagie sandwich or hot dog buns and shared how I made these and even had samples for them to see and taste.

Third....(Finally to the title of this post), I shared that most people don't have a three month supply of fruit snacks or chewy treats for their kids.
SO, I shared one of the favorite things I learned from this to take a jar of applesauce from your food storage and turn it into delicious fruit leather.
I had made a batch
and brought it still on the cookie sheets. I then showed them how it looked after it was done cooking...pulled it off the plastic wrap, put it on a cutting board and put the cornstarch/powdered sugar mixture on it, cut it with a pizza cutter into squares, showed how I store it in mason jars lined in waxed paper and they got to enjoy some as well.

You don’t need to have a fancy dehydrator to make fruit leather.

Take 1 quart of applesauce
--Heat on stove until warm (if your applesauce doesn’t have cinnamon in it, you may want to sprinkle on a little when you are heating it up and stir it in)
--Line cookie sheets with plastic wrap making sure to tuck it well around the edges so it doesn’t fold over on to the fruit puree
--pour fruit puree on plastic lined cookie sheet and spread out until it is really thin but make sure pan is evenly coated…about an 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.
--Place the baking sheet in the oven and try to keep any plastic wrap from touch the sides of the oven or the oven racks. Also try to make sure that the plastic wrap hasn't folded back over on top of the purée. If this happens, the purée won't dry out. Heat the oven as low as it will go. My oven only goes as low as 170 degrees. Let dry in the oven (with door slightly propped) for as long as it takes for the purée to dry out and form fruit leather. I usually do this in the afternoon right after work and it is done before we go to bed, OR, I put in the oven around 6:00 in the evening and let it go all night and it is done by the time we are up in the morning (about 8-12 hours). The fruit leather is ready when it is no longer sticky, but has a smooth surface.
--When the fruit leather is ready, cool completely and then you can easily peel it up from the plastic wrap.
Pull off plastic wrap, spread a cutting board generously with a mixture of part corn starch and part powdered sugar. Coat both sides of the fruit leather well with this mixture…you can’t have too much of this coating on the fruit leather. This preserves it and helps to keep it from sticking together.
--Cut into squares with a pizza cutter. Store in a mason jar lined with waxed paper and seal tightly.
Kids and adults LOVE this chewy, healthy treat!
Great way to have a treat when you are living on your food storage. My kids think this is better than any “Fruit snacks” you can buy at the store.

'Tis the Season to be Jolly!
(AND a little frugal as well)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Many Joyful Moments!

(my favorite quote on Gratitude) 
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ---Melody Beattie


I can’t believe the Christmas season is already upon us
the year truly has just flown on by!  Winter arrived early this year as we have never had so much snow and school closures ever for the week of the Thanksgiving holiday. One of my good friends that is a school teacher that has lived here all of her life, said she has never experienced school getting out because of weather for the Monday-Wednesday before Thanksgiving break. 
Truly unbelievable weather!
Nonetheless, we are embracing the cold and snow and trying to enjoy each moment of it.  I’m afraid winter is here to stay!

Lest we get any further into the month of December, I thought I would share some of the MANY things that brought JOY, Happiness and Gratitude to my life this past month. 
Joy, Happiness and Gratitude are synonymous to me….whatever brings me joy or happiness also brings me much gratitude as well.

Here goes…in no particular order of importance, just some of the things that brought smiles to my face. (I was SO busy helping Tracy get our home back in order and work on remodel projects these past few weeks that I didn’t take many photos at all...especially when we had company over :-(.

--JOY is having my Super Saturday presentation over with and having it have turned out a success (at least that is what people have told me).

--being able to finally cook on real stove and bake in an oven…we made a pot of Ethan’s favorite “Split Pea Soup” and a batch of Tracy’s favorite “Snickerdoodles” for our first home cooked meal!

--the JOY of sitting down together each night at the dinner table and enjoying home cooked meals, talking and discussing our days events.
This truly is the highlight of my every day. love, Love, LOVE this!!

--Enjoying the SNOW as I look out and see a blanket of white instead of seeing all of the weeds I didn’t get pulled before winter came.

(My brother and sister-in-law sent Tracy and I "Life is Good" shirts...
this fits perfectly as my motto in life truly is "Less is more"!!)

--the feeling of gratitude as I get comments and emails from friends, even though I have been terrible at keeping in touch these past few months. These remembrances have meant so much more to me than words can express! I've even received care packages in the mail!!  I am truly blessed beyond measure with wonderful friends and family!

--Enjoying eating bowls of pomegranates over the past week.  We opened and enjoyed the fruit of 8 pomegranates. Yummy!! (Ethan was sad that we went to town over the weekend and couldn't find anymore pomegranates to buy)

--having a “fire to snuggle by” in our house again, as Tracy got our parlor heat stove all hooked up.  It was so cute looking at Ethan laying on the hardwood all snuggled up by it. He has found his new reading spot!

--enjoying Chocolate covered cinnamon bears in the month of November.

--the JOY of my kids faces and their excitement as I made up Spaghetti for dinner. It is one of their favorites and since I am not much of a pasta lover myself, I forget how much they LOVE this!

--Bananagrams!! This game has been one of our best and favorite purchases. You can play a game in less than 5 or 10 minutes and it has been wonderful for helping my kids (Jade especially) with reading and forming words. Can’t wait for many more evenings of this FUN.

--enjoying MUGS of hot water with lots of local honey and fresh squeezed limes to ward off the cough/flu season. We have juiced up over four dozen limes in the past week and have enjoyed each and every mug of this yummy goodness!

--Having my life back so I can “whip up” a pot of soup, baked bread and have a batch of cookies for my kids to enjoy as an afternoon snack when they get off the school bus.  I haven’t been able to do this for so long that it was so much fun to multi-task and make wonderful food creations in the afternoon.

--the JOY of running around in our stocking feet on our newly finished flooring and having “slide contests” to see who can slide the farthest.

--making a pot of Potato Soup for dinner in December and having the potatoes, onions and carrots all be from our garden that we grew this year.  LOVE our garden produce.

--Joy is still enjoying crisp apples off your neighbors tree in December as well.

--It was SO much FUN having Tracy’s brother, sister-in-law and their kids Hudson and Reese over for Sunday dinner… 
LOVE having a kitchen table that can comfortably sit 8 people...
LOVE having friends and family grace our table for dinner!!

--the JOY of having my visiting teachers stop by with sweet little children and having these little children play with the toys that my kids have long forgotten about….also having them bring our gumball machine to me before they leave, so they can put in pennies and leave with some gumballs to enjoy.  
Kids are welcome at our house anytime!

 --My entry window frame 
that holds photos of all of my family and friends that we received Christmas cards/letters from last year. There is not a day that I don’t walk by this and stand and smile at all of the faces smiling back at me.  
I treasure SO very greatly, my relationships and friendships with others!! 

--looking outside at just the right moment to catch the most amazing colors of the day before the sun has completely set and the dark of night sets in.

--sitting in the Rexburg Tabernacle on Thanksgiving day and being able to enjoy the wonderful Thanksgiving Day program. Even though my life was so hectic this year that I wasn’t able to be a part of it, I enjoyed the peace of listening to the beautiful music of the choir and the talent of many of our local youth in their music performances.  Music of all kinds truly feeds my soul!

--snuggling on the couch with my kids and enjoying watching a few episodes of Little House on the Prairie on Sunday evenings after a hectic week of school and work.

--getting to hold my neice Reese all evening while her parents were at a Christmas production. LOVED laying on the couch with her on my chest all snuggled in and also enjoying wonderful conversation with Tracy and his parents. I miss the moments of having little babies and so it was wonderful to have a baby to snuggle with.

--having my Christmas Cards all made up and signed, addressed and in the mail.

--playing “footises” with Mr. Smith as we laughed and watched episodes of our new favorite program “The Big Bang Theory”. LOVE that show.

--Time spent with my sister-in-laws (even though we always don’t see eye to eye on everything…I must add that rinsing out cans before you throw them in the garbage takes just a matter of seconds as it took me 11 seconds from start to finish to rinse out 2 cans as I was making dinner this evening) (big smile at Lisa)

--“mood light” that Mr. Smith has been installing in many rooms of our home. LOVE the warm soft glow that I see as I walk through my house at night.

 I think my most important JOY, Gratitude moments, were when I came down with the flu bad on Monday November 29th and my hubby took the kids to our family birthday party while I stayed home and soaked in a hot Epson Salt bath and then slept from 4:00 in the afternoon until 5:00 the next morning.  That one afternoon made all the difference in the world and I awoke on Tuesday morning feeling like a new woman and able to tackle the rest of the week!!

I am truly blessed with the most wonderful hubby and sons in the world!!

The very TOP of the list though,
was that my hubby didn’t have a serious injury as he stepped off a ladder in our garage and his hand hit a loose shelf and it came up and smacked him on the head and cut it pretty badly and gave him quite a goose egg.
SO VERY grateful that he is okay!!!

When I look at this list, I am reminded once again that all of the little moments with family and friends are what bring the most JOY to me in my life!

(looking forward to the JOY of the season
and many happy moments with my children and family....
photos from last years season that brought a SMILE to my face)

'Tis the Season for Joy!

The Joy from Children...
The Joy from Family and Friends...
The Joy of Traditions...
the Joy of cherishing and savoring each and every moment of this most Wonderful time of the year!