Little Wife On the Prairie

When you are everything to everyone, well, you had better act like you have it all together.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Blog booking it with year #2 under my belt!

I am halfway through putting together my 2nd blog book .  It's not easy and takes some time so I will be doing that instead of blogging for a few weeks.  See you in the new year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jelly and you

Okay, so it's really jelly and me.  But it so easily could be jelly and you!  I want to show you how simple it is to make a batch of jelly.  The hardest part is getting the juice.  You can do that on your own by juicing your own fruit or you can buy 100% fruit juice from the store.  Jams are even easier because you can use frozen fruit if you don't have fresh. 

Today we are making jelly.  Apple jelly.  Remember this, trip to the apple orchard?  Well, the apple were so small that they were very hard to peel.  You know what they say, if you can't peel 'em, juice 'em!  Okay, well, we will move on. 

I used a steam juicer to get all of the goodness out of the apples, then I threw the remains to the chickens.  They were not appreciative of the sacrifice.  Dumb things. 

After I had that liquid gold! I decided to do what any busy mother would do.  I stored it in the fridge until I could find time to make some jelly.

The time came today!  Hooray!  I had my waterbath canner on the stove for a week.  It was calling to me.  So I decided to do it.  Jelly used to be a big process for me.  Now it's something I can do, juice to jelly, in less than an hour.  And that's two batches!  If you can get a system going, it makes it easier.  Here is my system.

I bring the measured amount of juice plus the box of pectin to a boil (measurement will depend on the juice and will be listed on the instructions in the pectin box.)  Then I add the measured amount of sugar (this too will be listed on the instructions.) 

While I am waiting for the second boil, I set a timer for one minute. 

Here is the part where you have to be patient.  The mixture must come to a rolling boil before you start your time, not a soft boil!  A rolling boil should not be able to be stirred down and should look foamy.  Keep stirring during your minute boil.  When the minute is up, take the jelly off of the heat.

Oh yeah, I need to tell you an important part. FAVORITE CANNING TIP EVER!   Before you begin, stick you clean jars on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven on 210 degrees for at least 20 minutes.  This will steralize the jars without the mess and time of boiling them.  Then when you are ready to fill them, the jars are hot and ready to go.  Brilliant!

Fill the hot jars with jelly.  Leave a 1/4 of an inch of headspace.

I keep a small pan of water almost at a boil.  Then I can steralize and heat my lids before they go on the jars.

Wipe your rims clean.  (I use a wet paper towel or a clean rag.) Then place the lid on the jar and apply your rings.  Do not over-tighten.

Place them in the warming waterbath canner.  Let them come to a boil and then start your time.  The instructions will tell you how long to process them.  Mine processed at 5 minutes for the pints, 10 minutes for the quarts.  Some people will say that jelly doesn't need to be processed but I always do!

After the time is up, I let the jars cool for a few minutes on the canner rack.

Then I pull them out to cool on the counter and listen for the ping of victory! ( that means your jars are sealed!)  Remember to tighten your lids again after they have been processed so that you get a good seal.

It will take a few hours or a few days for the jelly to set.  It just depends on the fruit.  Don't get discouraged if it doesn't set right away.  If it doesn't set after two weeks, you can remake it (which is easy but kind of annoying) or you can use it as syrup.  We have had some delicious pancakes that way!

I really hope some of you get inspired to try this.  It's easy!  You can do it!  Homemade jelly is just one of those things that can't be duplicated in the the store.  Plus, they make great gifts.  We gave jalapeno jelly, a block of cream cheese and a box of Wheat Thins as teacher gifts this week.  Last year I was able to give grape jelly to several of the school staff at the end of the year.  It's a fun thing to give and it makes you look like you are a master in the kitchen even if all you can do is boil water!  Let me know if you give it a try!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The beauty of produce

My boys decided to help me out and harvest my root veggies.  I had been ignoring them and we had had several freezes.  We thought they were probably perfect to dig!  Plus, we have a big storm system headed our way and wanted to get them out before it hit.

Our carrots did really good this year.  Carrots are one of those forgiving veggies.  You put down seed and up they come.  Well, it does take awhile but they are worth the wait!

YUMMM!  Look at the fat ones!

Zaddy got a big one.  These are perfect for roasting.

Asher took on the manly job of digging them out. 

Every season I like to try a new veggie.  When it got too hot for my lettuce, I collected the seed and then pulled it up.  In it's place I threw down some turnip seeds.  They came up like crazy and I underestimated how much space each plant would need.  So we ended up with a big lump of greens.  Today we were able to see what was growing under the greens.  I can't wait to roast these! 

What a mess!

But they sure clean up nice.

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Zaddie's birthday and a bee.

I don't know who was more excited, the birthday boy or the brother.

He was still a little sleepy but was happy to see his donut cake.

Then he got a Beyblade set.  This was a BIG deal!  

He had a party with his cousins at a local pizza place.  They played games, ate pizza and had a great time.  I, however, forgot the camera so no pics.

This is my girl concentrating at her spelling bee.   She did great!  She made it several rounds before she got out.   You can't believe the pressure these kids felt.  There were tears from some.  It was kinda sad.

These three friends were all in the bee together.  Sweet and smart girls!

Good job spellers!  Good job my girl!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Little energy bites A.K.A, the best darn snack ever!

I am always looking for creative after-school snacks for my kiddos.  We get bored with the same old things.  I found a great recipe on, where else, PINTREST!  They are called No-Bake Energy Bites.  I have made them a few times and modified the recipe to our tastes.  We love 'em!   (For those with food allergies or intolerance, don't let the peanut butter scare you.  You can substitute sun butter or almond butter or whatever you like!)   Here is the photo recipe...

First you start with oatmeal.  These are old fashioned oats, not quick oats.  You need a cup of them.

Then there is the peanut butter.  I was scraping the bottom of the jar on this one.  You need a half cup.

Then there's the honey.  Ahhhh, honey!  You need a third of a cup of that.

Here is where I parted a bit from the recipe.  It calls for a whole cup of coconut.  When I made my first batch, I found that it was too much coconut flavor and not enough peanut butter for our tastes.  So I cut the coconut down (to maybe 3/4 of a cup if that) and added a bit more peanut butter (about the same, 3/4 of a cup instead of a half cup). 

This is another deviation.  The recipe called for a half cup of flax seed.  I didn't have flax seed but I did have bran.  So I used bran!  Totally flexible recipe!

This I did not change.  A half of a cup of mini chocolate chips.

 I took out some of a dry ingredient (coconut) and added more of a wet ingredient (peanut butter), but I wanted to keep the ratios about the same.  So I added more of a dry ingredient.  Dried cranberries (half of a cup)!  It was a great addition.  I have also made these with chopped walnuts.  Yummy.

Put it all together and what do you get?

Vanilla?  OH!  I forgot the vanilla.  1 tsp of vanilla extract will round out the flavors.

I mixed mine in a mixer but you can certainly do it by hand.

After they sit in the fridge for an hour, you can make bite-sized balls of goodness.  These are easy to eat, way too easy to eat.  So be prepared to have some self control.  Or be prepared to stuff six of these in your face at a time.  Whatever works.  The kids love them.  Especially if you call them cookie dough bites!  Enjoy!

Here is the listed recipe:

1 cup oats
3/4 cup of peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
3/4 cup coconut
1/2 cup wheat bran or milled flax seed
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit
1 tsp vanilla

Mix until blended.  Chill for an hour then form into bite-sized balls.
(Of course I double this for my family:) 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Asher's big performance!

I need a telephoto lens.  I miss so many moments by being too far away.  Regardless, I had to take a few pictures of my son playing the hand bells at his school play.  It was great!

I had only one problem.  It is something that normally doesn't bother me.  But on this day, it did.  The kids were asked to wear dress clothes or red and green for the performance.  My son decided that he would have nothing to do with nice clothes.  He just wouldn't do it.  I even tried to make a deal with him and have him take a nice shirt to put on before the play and then he could take it off right after.  He refused. 

 He had chosen an old red t-shirt and a red fleece hoodie.  He looked like he would on any normal school day.  But this mama wanted him to look handsome in his dress shirt.  I got very frustrated with him. 

I had to walk away and take a minute to decide if I wanted to make this a fight or if I wanted to let Asher be Asher.  I decided that my need for him to "look like the other kids" was not as important as his need to be independent and decide how he was comfortable.  In the big picture, it really didn't matter. 

It turns out that he was pretty much the only one who was not dressed up.  I kept wishing he had worn the shirt that I wanted him to wear.  My motivation?  I wanted him to look like the other boys in his group.  Shame on me. 

But you know what, it did not phase Asher in the least.  He was quite happy to be just who he was.  He didn't care that he looked different.  So instead of seeing it as an annoyance, I decided to see it as a blessing.  I pray that he always feels that way.  That he is okay being different.

 Forgive the photo quality. 

Here is the group.  Aren't they cute?  Asher is holding a blue bell and he is almost in the center.

See how handsome he is!  Even if he is wearing regular old clothes.

I love you son.  You are the best darn hand-beller ever!

The crew.  A bunch of crazies!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


This is what my yard looked like today.

Mommy!  Can we have a snow day?  PLEASE!!!!

Sure baby.  Lets make a snowman.  An indoor snowman. Cause mama doesn't really do freezing cold snow fun.  Party pooper!

I want this in my home forever.  Chubby baby fingers rock my world.

My niece sent us a Flat Stanley.  So we let him make cinnamon rolls with us.


Before the icing.

The kids finally decided to go outside.  I didn't let Levi go so we pulled a chair up to the backdoor and let him watch.  Of course he became a target for many snowballs.

Much to his delight!

I love to catch these times.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Stanley! :)  Love you Ava Grace!