Cherries are Pretty

Yesterday, we were lucky to be able to go pick cherries at a friend’s house.  The cherries were the tart pie variety, and that tree was loaded.  My friend had been picking for days and the tree seemed as full as ever.

Davey and his friend helped us for a little while, but they soon ran off to play.

My favorite part of picking cherries was seeing how pretty they were in the tree.  I wish I had taken some pictures of them.  The light was nice, and the cherries were such a bright color against the greens of the tree.

After we were done, we visited for a little while, and then Davey and I headed to the store for jam making supplies.

There were a lot of cherries to be pitted before we could start making jam though.  Once again, I just wanted to take pictures of those pretty cherries.

And so I did.


They were so pretty that I kinda hated to pit them.



But I did.  I sat on the front porch and pitted cherries.  It’s messy business.  I had to hose the porch down when I was done.  Cherry juice was everywhere.

I had a little helper for awhile.  Of course this was the opportunity for more pictures.  I love pictures of his little hands.


He quickly figured out the basics of pitting cherries, and he was able to get the pits out very efficiently.  He then gave me some pointers as well.


We finally had a nice bowl of cherries.


I went in and made 8 jars of cherry jam, and I do believe it is the best jam that I ever made. The cherries were so tart, and the cherry jam just tastes so “cherry”.



I was so careful to separate the pits from the cherries, but as I was looking at my jars, I found the occasional pit suspended in jam.  I will just have to advise using caution when applying jam to bread.

I had an extra cup of cherries left, and I couldn’t bear to not use them in jam.  So I remembered I’d bought three pounds of strawberries from a Walla Walla farm.  They were in the freezer all cut up and ready to go.  So I used them to mix with the cherries.  I also threw in a handful or two of blueberries for good measure.

This turned out nice too. Strawberry jam with a little added cherry tartness.  I think the blueberries just gave it a darker color.


Jam Success!

Some knitting and exploding garbanzo beans

It’s summer, and I am knitting again!  It’s nice to have time to knit.  I am determined to whittle down my stash this summer.  I started with a baby blanket.  I have had some Lion’s Brand Baby’s Choice for awhile that I needed to use up.  I started it on another baby blanket awhile back, but I wasn’t liking the yarn in that pattern much.  So I began again.

I began twice actually.  I first wanted to make a blanket in the Concentric Squares Baby Blanket pattern.  It’s a really neat pattern, but I soon realized that I was using up all my yarn and I was not even 1/3 of the way done.  I was going to have to buy more yarn to finish it.  A lot more.  I don’t know what was going on.  When I took it off the needles to frog it, I realized that it was at least a twin-size wide.  It was on the way to being enormous.  I didn’t want to make a ginormous baby blanket which required me to buy more yarn. That was defeating the purpose.

I went looking again, and I found another pattern that I liked a lot.  It’s called Sweet Phoebe. I really like this simple pattern.  It has such a pretty lace edging.



The yarn is a bulky cotton/acrylic blend.  It’s a little shreddy, and it was hard to weave in the ends nicely, but I love how soft and squishy it is.



The above photo shows me that I need to work on my knitting versus purling tension.  I have no idea how I can do that, but I can definitely see the difference between the knit and purled rows here!

This pattern would be a great introduction to lace.  The lace is just around the edges and it’s a very short repeat.  Then you settle into the stockinette for most of the blanket.  It knit up fast with the bulky yarn, and I almost used all the yarn up.  I had less than a skein left. Perfect!

And now to totally change subjects. Yesterday I wanted to make a really good new salad.  So I googled “best salads ever”.   I found this one:  Chopped Salad with Bacon and Garbanzo beans.  It turned out great!  I made a couple of modifications.  It called for garbanzo beans and butter beans.  I thought that would be a little too much “beanage” so I went with just garbanzo.  I’ve always been a little unsure about eating garbanzos (except pureed in hummus), but I’d never fried them in coconut oil before.   They are really good.  I quickly learned though that I might need protective eye gear the next time I made them.  They started exploding on me!  Doubtless, I am doing something wrong.  Too high of heat maybe?  It caught me off guard though.  I am actually making the salad again tonight, so I will try to figure out how to avoid the exploding garbanzo beans.  I left the garlic and shallot out too.  I wasn’t in a garlicky/shalloty mood, but I am sure they’d be good in there.

Now I am off to make homemade bread.  We made a salt dough topographic map today (I will post about that soon), and it got David hungry for bread.  I have another good recipe for easy bread too. Really easy to make and so good!

Davey – formerly known as “the very picky eater” + Pinterest Success

Davey has developed a reputation for being a very picky eater.  For a long time, he wanted nothing to do with vegetables or basically anything that was part of a “mixture”.  He did always eat a lot of fruit though, so he got some vitamins that way (plus some gummy vitamins sometimes). Besides fruit, he mostly enjoyed peanut butter and jelly, goldfish, vanilla yogurt, cheese, Life cinnamon cereal (known around here as “crunchies”), and sometimes chicken nuggets.

However, I never could envision him growing up to be too particular.  David and I definitely are not, we don’t come from families who include picky eaters, and I did not see how it could be part of his genetic makeup.

I worried a little though.  A friend from Colorado told me about her cousin who specifically requested that she have chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese at her own wedding as those were pretty much the only foods she liked.  I could see this as Davey’s future for a little while.  But, we never made a big deal about it and just kept encouraging him.

He is beginning to come around.  This is now a kid whose current favorite food is black-eyed peas and cornbread. He also loves spinach salad (he likes it with 1000 island dressing, but he will eat plain spinach leaves too).

This brings me to some pinterest successes I have had lately and which have also expanded his eating repertoire.

I made a great simple pepper salad the other day.  Basically just several types of chopped bell peppers, lime juice, cilantro and onions.  Davey loved it.  In an attempt to get him to try it, I first asked him to taste test each color of pepper to see what color he liked the most.  I think red and yellow beat orange and green.  He chowed on these peppers!  He even ate some of the cilantro and said he liked it (I could not hang with him on that one).

The same night I tried a new Mongolian beef recipe.  It was another great success, and Davey ate quite abit of the beef and enjoyed the sauce mixed with rice.

Davey still has his moments.  He doesn’t like any of his foods to touch each other on the plate.  He also wants to use a separate spoon or fork for each thing.  So a fork for the rice and a different one for the beef.  I think he was just picking out the peppers and eating them like finger food.

He’s getting there though!  There be some regression on the way, but I’m no longer too worried that we will need to make sure and have chicken nuggets and goldfish at his wedding.


Buskers and Sesame Tofu

Pretty busy weekend.  Yesterday we had soccer.  We thought we were going to be rained out, but nope.  It was a little chilly and wet, but Davey and his team had a great day.  It’s fun watching them get better each week, and it’s also fun to really see them get after that ball and want to try to score.

After soccer, we went to Buskers in the Burg.  I wish we would have been able to go in the morning because we would have seen more of this:



Giant puppets!  This chicken guy was actually being chased by a puppet with a big mallet, but then they’d reverse and the chicken would chase the other puppet with his cleaver.  I think there were more of them out in the morning – maybe next year we will see them!

There was a hay maze which Davey enjoyed running through a few times.



Today we went to the library and then mostly hung around at home.  I had homework to do, and so I knocked some of that out.   Then for dinner tonight I made Sesame Tofu.  We had discovered Sesame Tofu at a restaurant by our house in Broomfield.  It was the first tofu dish that we really really liked, and we went over to this restaurant quite abit to have it.

So we miss the Sesame Tofu.  I decided I needed to figure out how to make it.  I got really lucky and found a great recipe on my first try.  This Sesame Tofu Recipe was so good.  I didn’t get the tofu quite right, but that will just take a little practice.  The sauce was really good.  Little Davey loved the sauce on rice, and he even had a little tofu.  He’s getting so much braver and becoming really so much more interested in trying new foods.  Yay for that.

Now tonight – Breaking Bad finale and some knitting time.  It’s chilly and a little rainy out, and I’m enjoying this beginning of fall.  Tomorrow we are all back to school!

Two Totally Different Recipes – had to share

It’s Friday.  I’m on the front porch watching Davey look for clues.  He found a gem in the flowerbed (I think it’s a gumball machine kinda gem, but he’s having fun looking for more clues).  He just discovered a roly poly and determined that he followed us from Colorado.  Quite an imagination on this little guy (Davey – not the roly poly!).

I made two recipes this week that I had to share.  First a friend mentioned that he was making “paleo pancakes”.  Two ingredients.  1 Banana and 2 Eggs.  (that’s two right?  or three?)  Anyway.  Squish up the banana by itself.  Beat the eggs by themselves.  Mix them together.  Make pancakes.

Really good.  I suppose you could call them a banana omelette kinda?  But no, they really tasted like pancakes – or maybe somewhere between pancake and french toast (one of my favorite foods).

Highly recommend!

Then I made Green Bean, Grape and Pasta Toss.  I wasn’t sure what I thought about green beans and grapes together, but I thought I’d give this a whirl.  David decreed that it was the best pasta salad he had ever had.

The recipes calls for fresh green beans.  There were none to be found at the grocery store, so I steamed frozen green beans.

The recipe calls for roasted pecans.  I like walnuts better, and they were about half the price so I used those.  Didn’t roast them either.

I used apple cider vinegar instead of red wine.  I always read about how good apple cider vinegar is for us, so I use it as much as I can.

Oh and I used turkey bacon instead of regular.  I’ve gotten to where I like it just as much as regular (maybe because I haven’t had regular in quite awhile!).  It worked great though.

That’s my recipe sharing for the day.

Now it’s time to head down to the 4-H horse fair.  Davey is excited about seeing the horses and hopefully seeing his friend ride in some of the events!

Happy Trails

We went on a little hike today.  Might be the last chance we get to do that here in Colorado.

I discovered a new great website and corresponding app called Every Trail. It lists tons of trails all over the country.  I wanted to find a trail close to our house so I set the search for trails within 10 miles of Erie.

We found a trail in Superior called the Dirty Bismarck Loop.  I thought it was a cool name.  We had to try it!

We didn’t come near to walking the whole thing.  We maybe walked 3 miles.  Davey did great, and it was fairly warm out.  Buster loved it too.  Most of the trail was through the open prairie.  There was a warning sign at the beginning of the trail instructing us to beware of rattlesnakes.  Davey was ready to nix the trail at that point, but we convinced him it was highly unlikely that we would see a snake.  Thank goodness we did not.  I have a bit of a snake phobia, but I’d rather walk on a trail where there was the threat of rattlesnakes than a trail up in the mountains where there was a threat of a mountain lion watching my every move!

We read a picture book the other day about a little pioneer boy traveling across the Great Plains with his family.  Davey really got into this. So today, he pretended the entire time that we were pioneers making our way across the prairie.  Davey, Ma, Pa and Buster.



He can squat like this for a long period of time.  It amazes me.

It was a nice hike.  David got a family pic of us.  (Davey and Buster are gazing fondly at each other here.)




Then Tonight Davey helped me make some no bake cookies.  They are called “No Bake Energy Bites”, and I came across the recipe on facebook. Here’s the recipe.

*~*~*No Bake Energy Bites*~*~*

1 cup (dry) oatmeal
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix ingredients together in a large bowl. Roll into bite size balls. Refrigerate to set.

They are really tasty.  I added chia seeds to the batch I made tonight.  Davey liked helping me combine ingredients, but he is not too interested in eating the cookies.  David and I highly recommend them though!



Avocado Egg Salad, Aerosmith, and Airmail

Miscellaneous things today.

David and I have been making this really good egg salad lately.  4 hard-boiled eggs, 1 smushed up avocado, a little red wine vinegar and mayonnaise.  It’s really really good!

Davey had a Father’s Day party today at his pre-k Summer Camp.  They’d made some fun father’s day crafts for gifts.  They decorated the tables, and they had donuts.  He also made a craft with David.  It is a pet rock.  David texted a picture of him to me.  I replied “that’s awesome” but I messed up and the auto-correct replaced it with Aerosmith.  Aerosmith?  Turns out it’s a fairly fitting name for this little pet rock.  He reminds me a little of Steven Tyler. David and I have officially dubbed it Aerosmith.


And finally, I’m once again trying to actually write little notes, put them in an envelope, add a stamp and send them off the old-fashioned way!  I found the cutest little Mary Engelbreit notecards today at Michael’s.  I came home and wrote notes to my 3 oldest nieces.  It’s kind of fun to write a little note and send it off (I did this promptly before I got sidetracked!).   I also think it is very fun to receive a little note in the mail too.  I’m going to try to be better about occasionally doing this!


So I just finished an excellent book called The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe.  I really like to read books about people writing about books they love.  I learn about new books, and I often gain new perspectives on books that I have also read.  This book was more than that though.  It was also about the relationship the author had with his mother, and it’s also a tribute to his mother.  They began this book club after she was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, but throughout the book I also learned about her life.  She’s very inspiring.  She worked in refugee camps in several places around the world.  A very important cause to her was also establishing a library in Afghanistan (she successfully did this).

So anyway, I really enjoyed it, and I was curious to learn more about the author.  He’d been a book editor and in the book he describes how he left that work to start a website called  It’s a fun site with lots of great recipes.  So all that to explain how I discovered that the national dessert of Australia and New Zealand is the Pavlova. I’d never heard of this dessert before.  I read about it, learned that it was very low fat, and so decided to try it out.

cookstr had a recipe for individual pavlovas.  It’s kinda like strawberry shortcake, but the base is not cake, instead it is a baked meringue.  You shape the meringue into disks and then bake it.  My disks do not look nearly as tall and nice as the ones pictured on the website.   This may be a combination of my altitude challenge here in Colorado, and perhaps I am also somewhat meringue challenged, as I’ve not made it many times.

However, I think I succeeded in capturing what the bases were supposed to taste like.  The base is just eggwhites, sugar, vanilla, cornstarch and a pinch of salt.

Here’s the finished pavlova.



Once you bake the meringues, you just layer whipped cream and berries on top.  Very easy.

David took one bite of the meringue base and his first comment was “Strange”.  Not exactly what you want to hear. But it is unlike anything I’ve ever made.  It is kinda chewy and sort of reminds me of a more solid cotton candy.  It is very sweet and I wouldn’t want to eat it by itself, but I thought it was really good combined with the whipped cream and berries.  I didn’t actually use whipped cream this time.  I used Cool Whip.  David loves cool whip and we were trying to keep the dessert low fat and low calorie.  Next time though I’d love to try it with real whipped cream.

Despite David’s initial “Strange” reaction, I think the dessert grew on him.  He was ready to have another one today.

Davey wanted to try one too (without the fruit).

He looks a little unsure here.



He wasn’t too thrilled.  I wish he’d tried it with the fruit as well!

So in summary this was a great book that led me to a good website where I found and tried what I think is a pretty fun dessert!


St Patrick’s Day 2013

It’s been almost a week since St Patrick’s Day, but I wanted to post a few pictures about the fun things we did.

Davey was all into St Patrick’s Day this year.  He wanted to have a “party” so we decided on a craft and a green treat to make together.

Pinterest came in really handy for this, and we settled on making a rainbow and pot of gold.  This involved Froot Loops and goldfish.  And glue.


I sorted Froot Loops.  David applied glue, and Davey attached the Froot Loops (well a lot of them).

This final result was cute!


Within about 5 minutes of the completion of the pot of gold(fish), Buster jumped up and ate about 3 of the goldfish.  That was his contribution.

We made green cookies too.  This was a really easy recipe which involved sugar cookie mix, andes mints and chocolate chips.


Davey refused to try a cookie.  I’ve realized he is somewhat of a purist (have to put a positive spin on his particular eating habits).  He likes sugar cookies, Andes mints, and chocolate chips – but he does not like them all mixed together.  Davey is not a fan of mixtures of any type.  (and of course the cookies were green – maybe not a selling point either!) But sugar-laden cookies -not a bad idea to refuse anyway!


I like this close up of him.


And then a short Buster story.  Buster is almost 6 months old and of course he likes to chew things.  He is in love with this Superman (who is about 3 inches tall?).


He will dig it specifically out of a tote with about 40 of these little guys.  I tested him.  He got it, and I took it away and reburied it in the bottom of the tote.  A minute later, he had found Superman and was carrying him across the room.  It’s all about the cape I think.  He was ready to annihilate the cape.   Superman is safely put away though.  For now.

Pinterest Success

I really like pinterest.  I find so many fun knitting ideas there.  And recipes.  Lots of recipes.

I got the idea about how to decorate make my Halloween cupcakes from pinterest.


These turned out great except no one told me (and I had no clue) that  approximately 24 hours after I placed the M&Ms on the icing, the M&Ms would turn very dull and become gritty.  Gross.  So I was quickly replacing M&Ms which just was not much fun.  Next time – icing eyes!

Then the other night, I found a great recipe.  I love Mexican food + eggs.  So this was a Mexican baked casserole.  I also like finding great meatless recipes, and this is one as well.   It’s called “Mexican Baked Eggs“.  I made a couple of minor modifications.  I used one jalapeno pepper instead of two, and I removed all the seeds.  It called for chipotle chili powder as well which I’d never used before.  I like the flavor of it a lot.  It was a little hot though.  If Davey would have been brave enough to try it, I would have cut the powder back some.  There was not much of a chance of that though.  I also sauteed some diced potatoes and put that at the bottom of the dish.

This turned out great and I will make it again for sure. It was a dish that David didn’t mind having as a leftover – always a plus too.

Then there is the recipe that is just plain old sinful.  No way around it.  I don’t know what possessed me to make it, but it may be one of the best desserts I’ve ever made.  David describes the pie as having a glow around it which continuously beckons him.

It’s called Peanut Butter Pie with Chocolate Chips.

Some of the ingredients include peanut butter (obviously!), whipped cream, cream cheese and powdered sugar.  That actually is the vast majority of the ingredients.  I confess that I did not make the homemade crust.  The recipe for that included more sugar and butter.  Next time.

I will make this again when we have enough guests so that I can be sure that most of it will be consumed when they are here.  Otherwise it is irresistible.

So while I’ve been writing about recipes, Davey has been playing away!  He’s immersed in a scenario which I think involves a snake attacking a camp.