And then there was too much…

Have you ever felt overwhelmed? So much so that you started crying over something that wouldn’t have phased you any other day (I’m sure the pregnancy hormones don’t help)? That was me yesterday. I have been overwhelmed for quite a while, but yesterday I just couldn’t take it anymore. I started sobbing (I don’t even remember what the straw was that broke the camel’s back) and my poor son was quite saddened and concerned about me. He even was trying to make me laugh by falling off of his little bike, after the hugs didn’t fix the problem. He helped fix the moment, but I had a hard time not crying all day.
I just want so much to be a good wife and mother. To be a good homemaker and steward. To be a good student and friend. To be a true Christian and deserving Daughter of God.
I am trying to have more balance in my life and have been working on reading my scriptures daily something I have never been the greatest at (but I’m two months going strong). I also am allowing my
self to read a chapter or a portion of a book I want to read. I really want to sew (and really really REALLY need to get some gifts done and things made for our little lady) and work on some other projects that I want (and need) to do. But I can’t. I can’t find the time. (And I’m already not sleeping enough and feel like a zombie so that can’t be a solution).
For my Foundation of Early Childhood class I read and learn about how important it is for children to play, to be outdoors, to be engaged, and to limit there screen time, and it only makes me feel worse because I have to not give my full attention to my child and babysit him with the television, while I am learning these things. There is so much that I want to do for him and her.  So much that I want to be for them. So much that I want to have them experience and be.
And yet, now, in these day to day struggles I more often feel like I am failing both them and my husband, then growing closer to my goals.
I am taking life one day at a time,  And on the tough days I go to sleep with the hope that tomorrow is a brand new day. And with a little repentance and reliance upon the Lord I can start over with a brand new slate.

What comforts you when you have your tough days?

From my Family, to Yours..

Freezer Meals

I can’t believe that I have been in school for almost a month! Time is definitely flying (especially with the endless amount of homework that is before both the hubby and I) which is a scary thing as that also means this little lady is getting closer to her debut. Since the badester came two weeks before his due date, that means this little girl could be here in 4 weeks (37 weeks) or more. (We are hoping for the “or more” option as we still have so much to do to prepare for her to join our little family.) When we have spare time (What was that again? Did it ever really exist?) we are trying to fit in the long-task list before us.

This last week I made a plan, to re-make several of the freezer meals that I  made in preparation for the badester. But their was no way that I was going to make them all in one day again, because I just do not have the time or the energy for that sort of thing right now. (Can you say exhausted?) So my plan is to make two freezer meals a week along with other items that I can prepare in quick larger batches (like diced onions, granola bars, Muffins, par-cooked broccoli, etc.) so that way we are all stocked up on food when this little lady comes and we won’t have to resort to take out (cause believe me 98% of the time if I don’t cook dinner, we don’t eat dinner unless we go out to eat, not speaking ill of my amazing hubby at all, but cooking is just not one of his forte’s, though I will say that last week he made this mixture of chicken with lemon pepper and cinnamon, bell peppers, and rice that was delicious!) Life is already stressful enough with a newborn, the last thing I want to worry about is the big ‘ole “What’s for dinner?” question. We also plan to can and/or freeze some chili, soups, and chicken, but that is for another post.

The great thing is that you don’t have to be having a baby to make freezer meals, and they are an incredible time saver. I have vowed to never be without some in my freezer again.

I have taken these recipes that we used last time and am revamping them a little bit, because most of them were kind of blah. I also recommend using a large sticker label to attach to your gallon freezer bags, because the Sharpie gets everywhere if you don’t. (I forgot this fact this time around and the end result was sharpie all over me and the counter as I tried to mix up the bags.)

My preference for freezer meals is that you combine a bunch of ingredients that need to be cooked, together and then dump them in the crock-pot lined with a crock-pot liner. This time instead of buying a ton of stuff at the store an totally blowing our budget for the month, we are trying to use what we have first, can get at the farmers market second (it’s way cheaper), and then buy things at the store. I am also making a list of how many freezer meals I have (two of each bag) and what the meals are so I can more effectively plan my meals and not just dig around in the freezer trying to find something to eat. (Though that worked last time.) I didn’t take any pictures this time around (pregnancy brain anyone?) but here are the pictures from last time. (Yeah this is a blog post two years in the making.)DSC01648 DSC01640 DSC01641 DSC01642 DSC01643 DSC01644 DSC01645 DSC01646 DSC01647

Ok! Now that you have seen all of that! Here the recipes that I used this week:

Beef Fajitas

2 lb beef round steak (we used some antelope steaks we had on hand)

2- 8 oz cans diced tomato’s with chilies

1 large onion, sliced or large diced

1 green pepper, cut into strips

1 red pepper, cut into strips

2 tsp cilantro

2 cloves garlic minced

1 jalapeno, diced (we omitted this – something to do with a two year old whom does not like them)

1. Split the items between two different bags, seal so that as little air as possible is in the bag (air is the enemy to freezing foods) and mix together well.

2. Make sure the bag is laying flat and then write the following on a sticker label and place on the bag:

Add 1 tsp chili powder and cumin, and 1/4 tsp paprika, onion, and garlic powder. Cook on low 5-6 hours. Scoop out with slotted spoon onto tortillas. Top with sour cream, avocado, shredded cheese, salsa/Pico de Gallo, etc.

Teriyaki Chicken

Medium-Large bag of small carrots (about 8 large carrots sliced)

Red Onion, sliced or large diced

2 large cans of pineapple tidbits, undrained

4 large garlic cloves

6 chicken breasts

1/2 c teriyaki sauce

1/2 soy sauce

1. Split the items between two different bags, seal so that as little air as possible is in the bag (air is the enemy to freezing foods) and mix together well.

2. Make sure the bag is laying flat and then write the following on a sticker label and place on the bag:

Add an additional 1/8 c teriyaki and soy sauce to crock pot. Cook on low 6-7 hours. Serve with hot rice.

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I hope you enjoy these recipes and that they make your life a little more simple! Let me know your freezer meal favorites below!

From my Family, to Yours..

Preserving Series: Water-Bath Canning: How To

Water Bath canning is suitable for most fruits, jams, pickles, and really anything with a PH below 4.6. It is important to not use anything other then approved sanitized canning equipment (a steam canner or inverting the jars so that they will seal are not approved methods). The reason it is so important to use the proper equipment that is well cleaned is because of food safety, namely Clostridium botulinum. This bad boy is deadly and the oxygen free environment of canned good is it’s bread and butter. If the item is not at the correct PH and the PH is above 4.6 Clostridium botulinum will thrive in those canned goods.  It is also important to never alter recipes so that the delicate balance of acidity is not disrupted.

For low-acid items (like most vegetables) it is important to use a pressure canner which reaches the temperatures necessary to kill off Clostridium botulinum. Recipes will say if they are to be water-bath canned or pressure cooked.

But with that being said don’t be afraid of canning! When it is done properly the end result is much better tasting, much better for you, and if done smart,  much cheaper then what you can get at the store. Just follow my easy instructions below!

The equipment necessary for water-bath canning are as follows:
A water-bath canner with a lid (stock-pot with a spaghetti insert works for small batches)
Metal basket insert (so jars are not resting on the pot surface -they can break this way-)
Jar-lifter
Ruler
Clean butter knife
Clean wet wash-cloth or napkin
Full-length hot pads
Proper canning jars (ball, kerr, mason, or other type jar) inspected for cracks or dents
Rust-free rings/bands
New canning lids with un-used seals (this is what preserves the food)

The steps to water bath canning are:

1. Prepare boiling water canner. Heat the jars, bands, and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
2. Prepare item to be canned according to the recipe. Remove jars from water just before they are to be filled.
3. Once the item has been placed in the jars with the proper headspace, or space left at the top of the jar as identified in the recipe, make sure to remove all the air bubbles with the butter knife. Wipe the rim of the jar with the wash-cloth to remove any food debris that could prevent a seal, and center on the lid. Then apply the band until it is fingertip tight.
4. With the jar-lifter and hot pads place each of the jars into the water-bath canner. Make sure the jars are covered by one inch of water and do not start the timer until the water is boiling. Adjust the time to the altitude you are at (a quick Google search will inform you, if you are unaware of your towns altitude). Process the jars for the full length of time.
5. Remove the jars and let cool in a draft-free place for 24 hours. Check the lids for seal after 24 hours, meaning the lid should not flex up and down when the center is pressed.
6. If your jar is sealed, Congratulations you have just put up food for out of season, following in the steps of those who have lived before you, if not, some recipes say you can reprossess it again for the full amount of time. I am not comfortable with that for 2 reasons:
   1. Your food has sat out in the temperature danger zone (41 degrees to 135 degrees) for far longer then is adviseable (four to six hours is the safety time frame) unsealed.
   2. You are re-cooking your food item to death, and it will most likely taste mushy or bland because it has been over-cooked.
I advise you to just put it immediately in the refrigerator and use it within a week.

Have you water bath canned before? Feel free to leave some tips for newbies below!

From my Family, to Yours..

Preserving Series: Water-Bath Canning: Peach Salsa

It is that time of year again! Time to put up all of this fresh local produce. We have been going to the local Farmers Markets and getting produce like some crazy people who are hoarding for the winter, partially because we are. (Seriously though, when I asked for 14 lbs of green beans the people in the long line at our favorite stand -Ashland Produce- looked at me like I was a crazy person.)

When I saw this recipe I knew we had to try it. I love peaches, like border-line love affair, love peaches (don’t worry the hubby is right there with me salivating over the delicious in-season peaches), and the hubby loves fruit salsa’s so I figured this was a match made in heaven.

And boy oh boy was I right. The only complaint that we have is that the original recipe has a kick to it. Like a huge kick. A little bit too much for us, though it is still delicious. If you like your salsa hot and spicy here is the link to the original recipe. If you like it somewhere between mild and medium use my recipe below (we did a two times recipe -see link above- which is why we don’t have enough peaches etc, we will definitely be making more though).

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Peach Salsa

Yield: About 7.5 pints, if you use larger peaches there will be a little more.

12 c fresh peaches, peeled, pitted, and small diced, about 15 medium peaches

1 large sweet onion, diced

6 tbsp lemon juice

3/4 c lime juice

6 jalapeno, deveined, seeded, and finely chopped

3 large green peppers, seeded and finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

6 tbsp cilantro, chopped

3/4 cup honey

1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, and make sure that they are well-mixed.

2. Place into prepared jars, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace.

3. Follow the rest of my water-bath canning steps here.

4. Process the pints for 20 minutes, up to 1,000 feet above sea-level, 25 minutes 1,001-5,999, and 30 minutes if you are over 6,000 feet about sea-level.

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And it’s ok if you have a little bit of extra salsa just plop it in a small jar and put it in the fridge, like we did. It is still delicious, you just want to use it within a week.

Let me know what you think below, and if you loved it as much as we do! What are you putting up this season?

Some Shiny New News

I wanted to share some exciting and shiny news with my wonderful readers!

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Here at the Snickerplum household we are expecting a new little baby!

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And that baby is going to be a girl! It has been a very different pregnancy this time around then with little man. Even though I have been sick with morning sickness I still wasn’t quite as sick as I was with him. The major difference is that I have been sick longer with her, which is quite a feat since I was sick until 19 weeks with little man. Yet it was a good thing I want as sick because I also started going back to school to finish up my degree at BYU-Idaho. (I figured since we are here any way it would not hurt to finish up my schooling as well.) But that is another post for another day. Back to the nitty gritty details.

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I will be 25 weeks tomorrow.
Up until 19 weeks I felt completely gender neutral (which was very different then the first time because early on we knew it was a boy). In my head I kept thinking the baby was a boy, but then suddenly one morning I was cleaning my son’s room and pow! It hit me, and I felt greatly impressed that we were going to have a girl.  So much so that when we were packing supplies for our gender reveal photos I felt silly bringing anything blue (we didn’t know when we left the house that morning). My sweet hubby on the other hand a couple weeks before felt impressed that we were having a girl.

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He is so excited to have a daddy’s girl, and for all the pink (especially the pink camo). I love that man and that I get to share forever with him.

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Over all this has been a different but good pregnancy so far and lately I have traded the morning sickness with Braxton-Hicks contractions.  Which I get all the time. Guess my body needs to do some major prep work for birthing this little one.

How has your summer gone? Do you have any fun or exciting news to share?

From my Family, to Yours..

Zaycon Foods

Today I want to share a quick little word with you about an awesome food movement. Have you heard of Zaycon Foods? No? Okay, let me share with you what they are all about!

“Zaycon Foods is a privately owned company based in Spokane, Washington. The company was founded in 2009 with the simple mission to bring farm fresh meats direct to consumers at wholesale prices. 

You see, we knew all the farmers who had the best stuff around. Thanks to our experience in the grocery industry, we knew how to quickly move that great stuff from point to point, preserving its freshness, taste, and nutrition.

 

So we asked ourselves: “Why are there middlemen involved? Why aren’t we just getting this food directly from the farms to the people who are going to eat it?”

 

That idea grew into the company we are today.

 

When we started off just a few short years ago, we offered only a few meats in a few areas. But thanks to the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response we’ve gotten from all of you, Zaycon has grown like wildfire!

 

We now offer a wider range of fresh foods – from milk to berries to salmon filets – to an ever expanding list of regions. If we have not been to your area yet, let us know and you can bet we’ll be there soon. And if we’ve already been through a dozen times, you know we’re coming back again, too!”

 

Here is short video about how they get their products straight to their customers.

We just put in our order for their upcoming 93/7 Ground Beef and Applewood boneless Ham, (which I would do soon by the way, if you are interested in ordering from them) and can’t wait to pick it up! If you want to check out their site just click here.

Have you ever purchased from Zaycon Foods or anyplace like them before? Please tell us about your experience below.

Amazing Homemade Ranch

I try to be a good wife and mother and devote my time with my family strictly to them. I only write posts and things when little man is sleeping either during naptime or in the morning or evening and when the hubby is busy with school work. And then during that time I only let myself write posts when all my household duties are taken care of (cleaning, cooking, dishes, laundry etc you get the idea). To me, if my home falls apart because of time spent online I have truly failed indeed at my favorite and most important job. In life there are seasons, and we happen to be in one that demands my time, a lot. So when it’s been a while just know that I am still here, loving and thinking of you, but trying to do a million other things as well.

We really needed a dairy free version of Ranch Dressing especially when the little man decided that: 1. Dipping food is the second coolest creation ever; and 2. Ranch Dressing is so amazing that he will eat it plain. (True story). So I started scouring the internet trying to find a recipe that we could use to make some ranch.  Trouble is all of those recipes that I found are made with a soy alternative and that didn’t work for me (and I suspect the little man too) because I am allergic to that, too. Fun right? So then I had the idea to just try to make it with the dairy substitutes we already use. Right now we are currently using either unsweetened or original almondmilk and original coconutmilk. We prefer to use the almondmilk for the ranch. Of course you could always make this into regular ranch, though we honestly can’t taste the difference, with soured milk or buttermilk (you would just leave out the lemon juice).

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See we love this ranch, looks like it’s time to make more!

Ranch Dressing*

1 c Homemade Mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp Lemon Juice, poured into a 1 cup measuring cup (leave out if using buttermilk)
7 1/2 tbsp Almondmilk, or pour the almondmilk into the cup containing the lemon juice until it reaches 1/2 cup
1/2 tsp dried Chives
1/2 tsp dried Parsley
1/2 tsp dried Dill Weed
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp dried Onion Flakes
TT fresh ground Sea Salt
TT fresh ground Black Pepper

1. Let the lemon juice and almond milk sit for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, chives, parsley, dill, garlic powder, onion flakes, and salt and pepper. Add in lemon and almondmilk mixture.
3. Let rest for 30 minutes in the fridge, (lf you can stand not eating it by the carrot stick full) and enjoy!
*We do like to make this doubled because we eat so much of it!

Hope you enjoy this ranch recipe! What is your favorite salad dressing/condiment?

From my Family, to Yours..