Sunday, September 21, 2014

First Day of School: A Glimpse of Us

A few weeks ago we joined the masses and went back to school. It was a glorious day.

Now that we are have settled into our new school and sports and piano lessons routine, I want to share some photos and give you A Glimpse of Us and our first day back to school.

The older two headed out the door early in the morning while the two littler ones slept in.

They were pretty handsome.

They were as excited as two boys could be who had to say goodbye to Summer and hello to school.

With the older boys off to school, this handsome Little woke up excited to get ready for his first day of Kindergarten. We started the morning with donuts, chocolate milk, and sweet smiles.

The sweet smiles continued all the way to school.

I did pretty well while watching him slowly shuffle into his classroom.

In a few short hours, all three of them came home off the bus. They didn't look to worse for the wear.

In fact, I think they had a pretty great day.

Three at school and one at home. Wow, how did I get here. That is crazy.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How To Can Tomatoes

We actually had tomatoes from our garden this year. Since we had more tomatoes than we could eat, it was time to can them. You know, since I decided to can everything this Summer. Okay not everything. It just felt that way.

Canning tomatoes is one of the easiest and fastest things to can. Since it is so easy you can do smaller batches. Basically you can them as you have them, because you know not all tomatoes  ripen at the same time. They are high maintenance like that.

Good news, that is the only thing high maintenance about them.

Okay, so you have some tomatoes all ready to go. Let's start canning.

First is the preparation. Before I start canning I get everything ready. I wash the jars in hot water. I line them up on a cookie sheet and keep them in the oven set on the lowest temperature. Next, wash the rings and the lids. Then put them into a saucepan of simmering water. Keep them there until ready to use.

Now it is time to prepare the tomatoes.

Rinse off ripe and unblemished tomatoes. Lightly score the bottom of the tomatoes with an X.

Place a few of the scored tomatoes at a time into boiling water. Take them out after 30-60 seconds, or when the skin starts to pull away.

Immediately put the tomatoes into a ice water bath. Let them cool off for about a minute.

Peel off the skin, cut off the top, and core the top.

Fill a stock pot with water and set on high, to get it to a boil.

Pull a couple of jars out of the oven. They will be hot, so use a hot pad. If you are canning pints, then put in 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 tsp citric acid (or 1 Tablespoon lemon juice). If you are canning quarts then put in 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon citric acid (or 2 Tablespoon lemon juice).

Cut the tomatoes in half or leave them whole. Place them in the jar.

Ladle in some of the hot water. Fill to 1/2" head space (aka the space from the top of the jar to the water level).

Remove air bubbles. Add more water if needed.

Clean the rim of the jar with a clean rag. Remove a lid and ring from the hot water. Place lid on top and screw on the ring, until just hand tight. Do not over tighten the ring.

Place the jars in a water bath canner. Fill till water is an inch over the top of the jars. Bring to a boil and then process pints jars for 40  minutes and quarts for 45 minutes. Processing time needs to be increased based on your altitude. 1,001-3,000 ft increase by 5 minutes- 3,001-6,000 ft increase by 10 minutes- 6,001-8,000 ft increase by 15 minutes- 8,001-10,000 ft increase by 20 minutes.

When the processing time is done, turn off the stove, remove the canner lid and wait 5 minutes before removing them from the water bath. Cool and store. Only store once you have made sure the lid sealed. When you press on top of it there should be no give and it should not be able to be pushed up and down.

Then glory in all you accomplished. You deserve it.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chocolate Cola Cake:Thirty Handmade Days

Best. Chocolate. Cake. Ever. This cake should be a part of your life yesterday. There is a secret ingredient in there that makes this chocolate cake rich and moist...and it is not the cola...


You should be. Don't worry I will tell you all about this delightful cake. You just have to head over to Thirty Handmade Days to get the recipe. You won't be sorry.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Peel Better Soon Get Well Gift Basket

Hi my name is Larissa and I have an addiction to making gift baskets.

True story.

This Get Well Basket idea just kind of popped into my head. I am discovering that I tend to think in play on words. I would play back the conversation I had in my head about this idea, but I am pretty sure it is way more funny in my head.

So I will spare you. Just know that I thought feel better...PEEL better...get well gift basket with bananas and oranges.

That is how the Peel Better Soon get well gift basket was born.

I put a bunch of bananas and some oranges in a basket. Tied it all up pretty like and then I added this simple Peel Better Soon tag.

I made this tag in Picmonkey.

Once this lovely little get well soon basket was all wrapped up, it got dropped off at my friend's who had just had surgery.

Oh gift baskets and play on words, you make me so happy!!

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cinnamon Banana Muffins

We like our bananas around here. Most of the time we just eat them up. Occasionally a bunch will get by us. When the bananas are past eating, the boys start begging for me to bake something. Sometimes we make Frosted Banana Bars or Double Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

Lately we have been making the bread version of these muffins. I really liked the bread version of these muffins, but I am gonna be honest, it was a little high maintenance. Each time I made the recipe the loaves always turned out different. I knew the flavor was there, and just needed a better way to show it off.

Well, these Cinnamon Banana Muffins are the better way to show it off.

These muffins are spectacular! I have always loved anything with a crumb topping. Okay not anything, I am pretty sure if you put crumb topping on peas I would still not like them. I digress.

Another thing I love is cinnamon chips.

These muffins are packed with cinnamon chips.

The recipe makes a ton. Which frankly is good because I am pretty sure my boys each ate two before I was even done baking them all. I guess they couldn't help themselves. They weren't the only ones...I may have had a few myself. The whole family gave me two thumbs up. That says a lot, because yes they are known to give me two thumbs down accompanied with "Eww" and "Mom, this is not the best thing you have made."

So if you have a bunch of bananas just taking up space on your counter, I think you should make these.

Cinnamon Banana Muffins
yields 3-4 dozen

 crumb topping:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3 cups sugar
3 eggs
6 ripe bananas, mashed
1 (16oz) container sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 cups flour
1 package cinnamon chips (I use Hershey's brand)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Prepare the crumb topping by cutting the butter into the brown sugar and flour, creating a crumb topping. Set aside.

Combine the 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray, then sprinkle a teaspoon's worth of the cinnamon sugar mixture into tins.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Mix in eggs, mashed bananas, sour cream, vanilla, and cinnamon.

Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda.

Slowly mix the flour mixture into the bowl of the mixer. Add in about 1 1/2 cups at a time. Mix until completely combined.

Then mix in the cinnamon chips.

Fill each cup 3/4th the way full. Then sprinkle some of the crumb mixture over the top.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the muffin tin. To remove from the tins, run a knife around the edge of each cup. Then gently lift each muffin out.

Now eat up and enjoy yourself!

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