Sunday, September 20, 2009

Okay, Okay...I'll admit it

We have a CAT! My friends and family know that I'm not really a pet person, but somehow we have a hamster, four chickens and kitten. The hamster is Kyla's and she and Chad take care of him. The chickens are for egg production (at least they will be whenever they feel like getting around to laying) but ended up with names as well per Kyla's need to name/humanize everything:) And lastly, there is Max. There is a story about Max. Max is/was a stray/ferral cat that was roaming our neighborhood. The kitten showed up at our garage door and stole Chad and the kids heart. The first full day that the kitty was around, my niece, Ana, took one look at it and decreed it's name would be forever Max. Little did we know that Max was a girl:) I had a friend who's a vet come and take a look at her and got an age guesstimate and an overall health report. She was severely malnourished and had a respiratory infection. She wouldn't/couldn't eat for the first couple of days and then started eating with gusto. She's full of energy, loves to play, is kind and careful with the kids and most importantly, in my mind anyway, lives outside.

We took her into the Ferral Cats Coalition in Portland today and had her fixed. What an amazing organization! By taking her in, we have committed to feed her for life and our family is okay with that. She's a bit woozy still and not her normal energetic self, but she is recovering well and should be ready to play tomorrow. Who would have guessed that I, an admitted non-pet person, actually have come to like this little ball of fur and energy:)

So the Riddle Family would like to announce the newest member of our little family, Max or Maxy, or Maxine:)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Canning Continues

I exploded out of my comfort zone cooking wise and attempted home made ketchup this week. I've been saving and freezing all the tomatoes that are coming off my tomato bushes with this in mind. I ended up with 20 lbs of tomatoes (I did have to supplement with 5 lbs from my mom) and got down to business.

I found a recipe online which seemed pretty straightforward and simple at first glance. After prepping 20 lbs of tomatoes, I barely managed to fit them in three of my largest pots (one was borrowed) and cooked them down for about an hour.

Next came running it through a juicer/grinder. What a hot, sticky mess! Just imagine hot liquid flying everywhere, juice running down my cabinets, and the smell of hot vinegar and celery seed combining to form a noxious odor and you'll have a point-on mental picture. Oh, did I mention I started this all @ 8:30 pm. The recipe called for cooking the tomatoes down for 12 hours in the I did it overnight. Any way, I got the tomatoes juiced and mixed all the extra ingredients in and then poured the whole mess into two crockpots for the night and wearily crawled into bed.

I went downstairs 6 hours later, I had to get Kyla to the bus stop, and it had only cooked down a half inch! What!!! I didn't want to deviate from the recipe, I was sure that they knew what they were talking about. Hmm, turns out, not so much:) After another 6 hours and 1 more inch, I calmly and carefully (Hah!) put the tomato puree back on the stove and let it cook down for almost 3 hours. Then I actually had to do the canning! I filled my waiting glass pint jars and gazed in utter shock at my six measly pints of ketchup. All this work and I got six pints of ketchup.

Thankfully the canning went smoothly and my six precious jars all sealed.

I must admit though, It's pretty darn good ketchup:) Is it good enough to slave away again next year? We'll just have to wait and see:) Maybe it's like forget the large chunks of unpleasantness and remember the amazing end result. Like I said, we'll just wait and see.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Welcome to Mrs. Imholt's Classroom!

Kyla had her first of the year family open house last night. She was excited to show us every aspect of the school, most of which we had seen last year:)

Here is her class room...
Here is the Library...
Here is part of the cafeteria, they have a reading section for the kids during inclement weather and as another option for recess and before school. Kyla spends lots of time here, according to her.
She's pretending to be an apple tree. Or maybe the karate Kid:)Go Wascher Wildcats!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Play Dates Commence

With Kyla away at school all day, Gavin and I are setting up dates with friends to play. We had our first one of the school year, and had Dominique, Truitt, and Finley over for lunch. Dominique and I met while sweating beside each other in stroller strides when our boys were babies, she was on my walking team as we competed last year, and I was there taking pictures at Finley's birth. Needless to say, we've bonded pretty well:) Truitt and Gavin are close in age (a couple of months apart) and get along fabulously. We do have to do some gentle reminders every once in while about sharing, but for the most part, they are great together!

After lunch, we went outside with plans to pick blackberries. Dominique set her bowl down for a moment and the bowl was quickly confiscated and the contents eaten at amazing speeds.

Finley fell asleep in the sunshine, listening to Dominique and I catch up on each other's lives.

Needless to say, she didn't get many blackberries, but I did fill up her bowl with garden goodies to take home. We have plans to see them again in a couple of weeks, fun times! Thanks so much for hanging out with us today friends!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

So Close!

Another day of painting is done as the sun sets today. We are getting so close to the end that we can almost taste victory:) My parents and Chad's dad came out and lent a hand (and a ladder). What a blessing they are! And now I must let everyone know how very amazing my husband is. He had his wisdom teeth pulled yesterday afternoon, yes, I did mean to say yesterday, and he was up a ladder painting today (not on any narcotic pain killers mind you)! He's taking it easy this evening, but seems to have recovered nicely from that pesky little surgery that knocks most people out for a week. Wow, he gets a gold star this weekend and maybe even some pudding:)

While the adults were hard at work, the kids played. My dad took the time to wage a fierce water war, a true necessity in today's hot sun:)

Another day of finish work and touch up and who knows, we could actually be done! Oh how I hope!!

As we were getting things cleaned up, both paintbrushes and kiddos, I was outside taking some pictures of the house. While I was out front, 7 county sheriff cars raced down the road, screeched to a halt at our corner, 10 plus policemen piled out of the cars, grabbed their WEAPONS and converged on a house down the street! Two hours later, the last sheriff car pulled away and we have no idea what it was all about. I can't wait to get the local paper and read about it:)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

And She's Off

Kyla is off to her first day of 1st grade! She is blessed with an amazing teacher, Mrs. Imholt, whom she had last year as well. Chad drove her to school and helped her find her new classroom. She was ready for a fun day of learning as he left.

She's there for a full days and super excited to be eating lunch there. In an attempt to make lunchtime more fun (and more environmentally friendly) I made three sets of these lunch bags/sandwich wrappers. According to the other websites I've found them on, they should keep the food fresh and they look cute too:)

Gavin and I sit here alone and the house seems empty without her. Isn't it strange how I was so looking forward to getting her back in school and now that she is, I miss her. Well, Gav and I must find something to do today so we both don't get lonely:)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Beautiful Dreamer

As we frantically finished up the to-do list before the weekend ends and school starts, Kyla and I took a morning to go and have some fun shopping, getting her haircut, and having a special lunch together. She choose the haircut (I was a bit worried about the length, but it turned out fantastic), she choose her shoes (again, I had to restrain myself as she choose differently that I would have) and she choose the restaurant...McDonalds, of course:) Three pairs of shoes and a cheeseburger later, we are back home. We just HAD to do a quick photo shoot of her new do, she looks adorable:) I again came upon the predicament where I couldn't choose my favorite one, or even a couple of favorites, so I'll just post most of them for the enjoyment of all:)

Okay, this one is not one of my favorites, but I wanted everyone out there to know that all my pictures don't turn out perfectly. I mean, come on, who would want this up on their wall?:) Check out that Dr. Evil eyebrow!

This is near the end of the shoot, the classic "are you done yet mom??" look. Priceless:)

And the winner of the "Going to be blown up and hung on the living room wall" award goes to...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Applesauce Time

It's time to make applesauce again, hmmm good. Unfortunately, our apple trees had an embarrassing small amount of fruit, hardly any, so I snagged some from my mom's over achieving apple tree. I've had several friends inquire as to how I make my applesauce so I decided to let everyone know in one swoop:)

I had a five gallon bucket of freshly picked apples to start with. I washed said apples and then proceeded to cut them in half and then quarter. Make sure to get all the bugs out:)

Put the mountain of prepped apples in the oven at 250 degrees in the biggest oven friendly pot you have and let them slowly cook for approx 4 - 5 hours, depending on the starting size and quantity of the apples. The apples need to feel mushy and look like a wrinkly old woman, no offense to any wrinkly old women that you may know:)

I then use the most wonderful invention for canning ever invented, a food strainer/grinder. It takes all the gross stuff out, like seeds, peels, general yuck, and you get the pulpy, juicy goodness with little work. It's a good arm workout and much easier to do with a helper, Kyla is a great helper!

The next step is to let the yummy goodness cool. I've learned that handling hot, splattery stuff is not the best idea. Save yourself some embarrassing applesauce burns and give the sauce about 1 hour to cool. You can also add seasoning if you'd like at this point. I don't, my kiddos like it plain and it's best plain when used for baking. If your apples are sour, put in some sugar. Like cinnamon? Throw some of that in to taste. Go wild if you'd like.

I freeze my applesauce, but you could can it at this point. I fill up quart size freezer bags, don't forget to label it, and then put them in the freezer to use another day. A five gallon bucket of apples make 6 quart bags of applesauce. You can always freeze them in smaller sizes, I've just found that this works for us the best:)

Best Wishes making your own applesauce!