Saturday, April 30, 2016

Canning Fresh Orange Juice!

Living in Arizona there is NO shortage of citrus!  I don't feel like I am exaggerating to say if you really wanted to, you could find fresh citrus, off the tree, 12 months out of the year!  

It also seems that there is always someone wanting to get rid of said citrus!  Recently a lady from our ward (church congregation) offered up her oranges... begged someone to come get them is probably more like it!  So me and the boys went and picked some!

Well, a bunch!
I filled my laundry basket nearly half full, and that was because I couldn't carry more!  There were still several on the tree!

Then I started researching.  I figured there HAD to be a way to preserve that liquid sunshine somehow!  I simply don't have the freezer space or I would have loved to freeze it all into ice cubes and saved it that way! so I resorted to bottling it!

I found the recipe from Yellow Rock Country Girl and I was super pleased how simple the process is!

(my juice, preprocessing)

First, you juice your oranges,

and juice them,

and juice them,

and juice them,

and juice them,

then juice some more!  Seriously, it takes forever! 

Of course it probably doesn't help that there are two more pitchers full that never made it to the pot... but seriously, it tastes so good!

Then ever so slowly so you don't burn your juice, bring it up to 190 degrees -  But don't boil it!

Then pour into hot, sanitized jars (dishwasher for me!) and process them!  They need a hot water bath for 15 minutes.

Here are the exact instructions from Yellow Rock Country Girl, because don't forget, it is SUPER important to follow directions EXACTLY when canning food!

Wash the oranges; drain. Extract and strain the juice. I strained twice with a basic strainer  so I got all the seeds and the excess pulp removed from the juice. Pour strained juice into a large stock pot, add sugar to taste if desired, my oranges were pretty sweet so I only added 1/2 cup sugar to a full gallon of juice.  Heat juice to 190 degrees farenheit and then maintain temperature for 5 full minutes at the 190 degrees farenheit. DO NOT BOIL.  Ladle hot juice into prepared hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles with a spoon. Cap with two-piece canning lids. Process 1/2 pints (good for single servings) pints and quarts for 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner

I got 11 pints out of those oranges (plus two gallon pitchers that didn't make it to the jars!).  So far it tastes great!  We labeled each of the jars with a month so that each month we can try it and see if we still like it even after sitting on the shelf.  I bottled them in February (yeah, I know, I'm a bit behind) so we've tried one (skipped March since I only got 11 jars) and it was fantastic!  Not the same as fresh-squeezed, but still so delicious!

One VERY important TIP
NO RIND!  We didn't get much, but it is important to note that rind/pith in the juice will turn bitter when processed.  As such, don't use a juicer that mashes out everything!  

Try it!

Super easy!

Let me know how things go in the comments below!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wedding flowers

Remember how I said I was really busy, wedding, funeral, family, family, family, etc. Well I'm finally getting around to posting pics of the flowers that I did for the wedding!  Ok, so really it was a group effort, but I did do the Bride's bouquet, half of the bridesmaids nosegays, and all of the boutonnieres.   my two sister-in-laws and my mother-in-law wrapped all of the flower crowns and I finished off about half of them (pretty wire-stuff and lace)  It was so much fun!  Perhaps someday I will do tutorials on bouts, corsages, and bouquets, but today, just enjoy the gorgeous flowers!

Grooms Boutineer

Groom's Bout and his four Grooms mens' Bouts

All together

Flower Crowns!
Bride's (far left) 2 mothers/4 bridesmaids and four flower girls 

The Bride's Bouquet is in the middle with the two bridesmaids on either side!

Congrats you two!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Let's Make Believe!

As you probably know by now, I have two boys that I love so, so much!  And being boys we have lots of bows and arrows, fireman hats, pirate garb, and capes, SO many capes!  I needed a place to put all of that sort of thing, but a 'dress-up box' seemed too, well, girly!

I opted instead for a "Make Believe Box."

So first I found myself a trusty diaper box!  Where would all of us moms be without our diaper boxes!

I folded the top tabs into the box so that when we move next I could pop them out and close the box up easily.

hmmm... I had pictures of the process, they are missing...

Then I rummaged through my fabric pile and found this great piece of cotton, green, and a tiny bit sparkly fabric, and quite a bit too!  Starting at the top and the middle of a side I started hot glueing my fabric to the box.  When I had a seam (there are two, but they are on the side and back!) I folded the fabric over and hid the glue underneath/inside so there are no raw edges.

Then I printed off the words "Let's Make Believe" (I totally wanted to leave that template here that you could print and use, but me and my computer are arguing over the ease of that... and I'm loosing... soon, maybe...) and some stars on my computer and traced them onto some double-sided-iron-on-stuff, as I call it (stitch witchery as it is technically called) and cut out the letters.  When you do this!  Either trace so the letters are forwards on the rough side or tell your printer to print it backwards (then trace so the words are backwards on the smooth side) or you will end up improvising and putting your S on backwards and your L on in two pieces and your E and Bs on upside down (no one can tell...).  Not that I speak from experience *wink, wink*

Then cut out and iron the double-sided-iron-on-stuff **wink, wink** first to a variety of felt.  Cut out again (this time the felt), peel off the paper side and iron them right onto the box!

Wahoo!  Easy-peasy make believe box (aka. dress-up box for boys!)

This box sits conveniently in our living room next to the TV and is always overflowing with capes and masks, dino tails, eye patches, fireman hats, bows and arrows, if it's cool for a little boy, we probably have it!  Enjoy!  Leave a picture of your creation in the comments, I'd love to see them!

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Best Fajita Soup EVER!

So I totally made this up, on the spot, while camping, and I am not kidding, it. is. AMAZING!  

I was planning on having Fajitas, like I've posted before, but in a dutch oven.  

Well I got to the campsite and had forgotten my spice mix and was flying by the seat of my pants and ended up making the best soup ever!

So here's what you'll need,

*Protein of Choice!  I used thin sliced beef
*1 bag of frozen onions/pepper mix ($1 if you buy the store brand at most grocery stores) (Love this stuff! I use it all the time, you can't buy that much fresh for that price and it's pre sliced!)
*1 Jar of salsa of choice
*Sour Cream
*Tortillas (corn)

All you do is dump the meat (mine even started frozen!) onion/pepper mix, half a jar of salsa and a cup or so of water in the pot and let it simmer until the meat is done!

We did it in the dutch oven and just put 15 or so briquettes on bottom and about the same on top.  

It smelled sooooo delicious!!!

When it's done scoop it out and we topped it with sour cream and cheese (tomatoes would be really good too!)  Everything mixes together and is just, MmmMmmm Good!  


Arizona sure does sunsets up right!

Wild horses in our campground!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Egg Shakers!

I made these egg shakers for nursery one week around Easter, but they are awesome all year round!

These are just a bunch of plastic eggs from my easter collection. 

All you need is,

Glue gun
Plastic eggs
Something to go inside.  I chose rice because it's not a choking hazard and vacuums up!

First thing I put glue in the little air holes in the eggs so the rice didn't fall out!

Learn from my mistakes though... Don't hold your hand under the holes while dripping glue in.  Owie!

Next I scooped in maybe a teaspoon of rice.

For this step you want your hot glue really runny.  I just let it sit on high for a while so it's way hot.  Then put a bead of glue around the lip where the egg shuts.

Then hurry and shut the egg!  If the glue is hotter, it sets slower, and thereby you have more time to get the egg shut correctly!

Then, because I was making these for toddlers, I wrapped washi tape around the seam for an extra level of protection.  Now honestly, if they did get opened up there's nothing to choke on and the mess would vacuum.  But hey, no reason to make it easy!

All done, and super easy!  The kids loved them!  So fun, so easy, and the perfect size for little hands to hold!  Be sure to show me your creations!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Jam & Bread

Yesterday I made Banana Bread

And Jam

Then set our bread maker to make a fresh loaf for breakfast.  Yum!

That's all!

Quick & Easy Air-freshener!

I have boys.

Enough said?

I'd say so!

Sometimes their bedroom stinks, sometimes their bathroom stinks, (who am I kidding, it always smells funny...) and I needed something simple, non-toxic, and not 'girly' smelling.

This is really so simple. All you need is,

A baby food jar (or other jar, I just like the size!)
Baking soda
Essential oils of your choice (I've used lavender, lavender and peppermint, and OnGaurd)
Burlap (or you could use any 'hole-y' fabric)

First, fill up your jar with baking soda!

 Then add your essential oils.  I used 5-10 drops, depending on how strong you like it (start small and add more if you want more.)  You can either mix/shake the soda in the jar or pour it out and mix it.

Using the lid to the jar (which you won't need after this) cut your fabric to 2 or so inches bigger on each side than the lid.  you may want more for a bigger jar.  Cut more than you think, you can always take away, but never add!

Then, using the rubber band, put the fabric over the top of the jar and secure it in place.

I then tied the ribbon over the rubber band.  I found that the ribbon was not enough to keep the fabric securely attached, the rubber band is though, and the ribbon hides it!


The soda absorbs the smells and the oils add deliciousness to the air!

If the room gets to smelling funny, just put your hand over the top of the jar and shake it up a bit!  (It is kind of really important you put your hand over the jar.  If you don't, soda will go everywhere!)

Shaking it will put fresh soda and smells to the top, refreshing it's deodorizing abilities.  It will look like this though.

Just give it a tap or two and a brush with your finger and it will look good as new!

 Voila!  I have one in our bathroom, one in the boys bathroom, and one in their bedroom, and they work great!  The boys' room has lavender oils, their bathroom has OnGuard (figured we could kill a few germs while we deodorize!), and our bathroom is lavender and peppermint, a combination I thought sounded odd, but I actually really love!

What are your favorite oil combos?  Show me what you create!

Monday, April 11, 2016

That was a crazy few weeks!

Poof! I'm back!  Yikes!  You're probably thinking, what happened?!  We want to see the finished washstand!  Well... this isn't that post.  But soon!

You see I was cruisin' along and then BAM!  I realized it was the week before my family came to visit, which was the same week that my sister-in-law got married and I had NO laundry done and my house was an absolute disaster!

So I cleaned for a week.

Then played for a week!

While my family was here we listened to General Conference (more on that to come!) went to the zoo, rode bikes, did some geocaching, I did some wedding stuff while my parents watched my boys, and just generally had lots of fun!

Then in the middle of all of that there was a bachelorette party (nails and dinner!) and the day before the wedding we put together all the flowers for the wedding (this is my third wedding! eeee!  I just wish I could do more!).

Then, of course, was the wedding (which was amazing!  So beautiful!)

After the wedding was the fallout (no but really, you know, 48 hours of chaos while everything is put away, returned, cleaned, and family is all still in town!).  I thought we might finally stop and breathe. Turns out we have one more event this week, but then we should be good for a while (yeah right.  But if I pretend right now, maybe I can relax?)

Now I'm going to go drink some hot chocolate and relax!