Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On the brink of change

It's hard to believe that my little girl turned 12 today. I can remember the day like yesterday, when they told me at the hospital but she was ready to go home with me. I was scared, thinking "can I really do this"? Wondering, but if I do things totally wrong? Of course I have done many things wrong, but overall she has turned into a wonderful young woman despite of it. Yes, she is a typical tween. She can go from Sweet, loving, and helpful. To a little demon, in two seconds flat. I remember when I was 12. Just going from believing my parents knew everything, to thinking I knew it all myself. The coming six years scare me to death, just the same as that day at the hospital when I was able to take her home for the first time. This is when I think to myself, have I done enough? Will she make the right choices for herself? Will she make the right kind of friends, that will help her to making these good choices? And even if she does, will she still make the right choices? Because good friends don't necessarily mean good choices. I hope I can be a good friend to her as well as a good mother. That she will come to me for questions and concerns. And that she will love me, through all of the periods that she might hate me. All the while I think about her growing up, I must remember that she still is a little girl. That is one of the hardest things with younger siblings, the older ones always seem to get the faster. But when you look back at pictures, you realize they were still little themselves. 

As part of each child's birthday, they get to choose what they want to eat that day. Winter requested breakfast in bed. And she also wanted to eat sushi. Again, such grown-up things to want. 
I love this little girl, she is so sweet and talented. She exceeds in pretty much anything she puts her mind to. She is smart, and works hard at school. She excels in music with cello, violin, piano, and any other instrument she tries her hand at. She can be very sweet to her brothers and sisters, and helpful with the babies. My hope for her is, that this time with the small babies will help her to want to become a mother herself someday. And that it will help her see that it is not all fun and games.

Here is to a new start of the new chapter in my life. Scary life of teenagers, but also rewarding hopefully. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Eggs and snow

Winter is knocking on the door. The season that is. We have had a few small snowstorms  each time we get a few inches and it only lasts for a few days. I can't wait for a snowstorm that dumps 4feet of snow overnight!

The chickens finally started laying eggs a few weeks ago, and they are beautiful and delicious!
We get about 8-10 eggs per day, which is on the high side for us, so I have started selling them. It's a good way to recoop some of the money we spend on food. 
Miles is the biggest fan of the chickens. It's super cute when he goes out to play with them. I don't know if they think he's a rooster or what, but if he chases after them, they will kind of squat the same way our Texas chickens did when the roosters came to "service" them. Then Miles can just pick them up easily. 

When the weather was still nicer, Miles also liked to sit in the dirt where the chickens take their dust baths. Not such a pleasant smell when he came back in the house!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I really wish I haven't gotten out of the habit of writing on this blog. When I don't write down what I do, I forget. And so much has happened in the last nine months. We had summer vacation, when we went to Texas. A new school year started. And last but not least, I had another baby. Chase was born in October almost a week late. His birth story probably deserves it's own blog post. It's hard to believe that he's almost a month old. It has been fun to see how Miles loves being a big brother. He comes up to Chase and give him kisses and hugs, and asks to hold him often. My recovery has been longer than I expected, but I am finally starting to feel a little bit more like myself again. Of course my scale doesn't make me happy, but I knew this was coming when I signed up for another baby. Going anywhere with essentially two babies is not easy. So I have been hibernating in my house. I don't think I was ever the scared with winter and Sterling to leave the house. It just seems like there are germs and sickness hiding everywhere in plain sight. I have had great support from my friends and people in the ward, which is been really nice. So for the sake of family history I will try to keep writing on this blog, even though Facebook has taken overs the Internet. And no, I don't think anybody still reads this. But I will be able to be back, and that's the most important part.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bull Trout camping trip

Living in Utah has given us the opportunity to do a lot of camping. This means I have go make it as comfortable as possible. Tent camping has never bothered me, but I did have to get a good mat. With that, and a good warm sleeping bag and earplugs, my nights were amazingly good. I mean, I had to get up in the middle of the night to pee, but that happens at home too.

We went on a 5 day trip to the Idaho mountains with my sister and her family. The mountains and lakes were beautiful, and we had tons of time to relax, fish, swim, and hang out.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I'm almost halfway done with this pregnancy, which is insane to think about. I think I've been in denial, as an emotional protection (in case of miscarriage). So now that I'm starting to look pregnant, and feel the baby move, it's a fun reality.

He has already mastered the yoga pose Halasana (Plow Pose)
It will be fun for Miles to have a brother so close in age (20 months).

Saturday, May 18, 2013

7 days of construction

It's been a LONG week, but I've made a TON of progress since my last post. That chicken coop post was of the progress from the first day. Of course I had grand intentions of chronicling each days progress, but then at the end of the day I would be completely wiped out. So instead I'll just show the progress by day:

Day 2
 Earl helped me construct and install the walls. The wall installation was one of the most tedious tasks. We had to make sure that everything was level and plum (who knows what that even means?).

 The trusses were built. For some reason I felt such a pride in the fact that I could make trusses! I mean, it's not rocket science, yet it's something that does seem complicated and important.
Day 3:
After 2 long days of working, I was not looking forward to another full day of labor. However, I knew that I need to get as much done as possible, with Joe being home (saturday) Look at those beautiful trusses! I could build myself a house! (well, maybe)
 To keep the trusses in place, we used hurricane ties. Sounds pretty hardcore doesn't it?
 With the roof and walls put on, this was starting to look like a mini house!
 In order for the chickens to keep laying eggs through the winter time, it's important that they get at least 14 hours of light. So we decided to install a light on a timer. Joe's the master electrician
I am rarely so happy to get a Sunday. A good excuse not to work, but rest!

Day 4:
Didn't get a lot done, as I was feeling pretty worn out, even after a day rest. I did create the first nesting box. Those hens better use them!

Tuesday I was still feeling burnt out, so decided to take the day off. And that means off from everything. Except watching TV shows and cuddling with Miles. It's actually kind of funny.  Miles is my least cuddly baby, but around day 3 or 4 he would just walk on to a piece of plywood I was trying to mark, and sit down. As a sort of protest. He wanted and needed attention.

Day 5:
The windows arrived, and I started on the trim, so progress seemed extremely fast. All of a sudden you can start to see what it might look like. This day was very rewarding.

Thursday Joe had the day off work, and we spent it working on the garden. Yes, I know I'm crazy for taking on 2 such large projects, but they both just had to happen. We got all the gardenn beds rototilled, and new top soil spread out.

Day 6:
Although the front of the coop was trimmed out on day 5, the sides and back still needed to be finished. It took pretty much all day to get the little trim pieces on, and install the nesting box lids.
Day 7:
I had planned to prime today, but it was raining in the morning. So I spent the morning finishing the roosting boxes and plank. Then we took a little bowling brake, after which the weather had cleared up, so I got to prime after all.  It sure looks better from far away!!
Although the coop looks almost done, my to do list still seems unbelievably long. I have to paint, caulk, install roofing, make feeders and a waterer, make the run, finish the electrical, and hopefully get Joe to design an automatic door opener. The chicks are getting big fast, so I'd like to get them into the coop as soon as possible. Of course they can move in before the run is complete, so that takes the pressure off a little bit.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Chicken Coop

Our new chickens will need a place to live, so I am building them a super deluxe chicken coop. I found an amazing looking plan on CleanCoop.com. The Daisy plan can house up to 12 chickens
 When we lived in Texas I just converted a garden shed without much thought into layout or design. I built some nesting boxes that were sub-standard, and it was difficult to clean out. The chickens rooster everywhere, and therefore pooped everywhere too. So when I was searching for a set of plan, my main criteria was 'easy to clean'. Also, I want this coop to be attractive, as we are living in a suburban neighborhood, and not in the middle of nowhere boonie land.

A few nights ago I set off to Home Depot with a long list of supplies.
Joe joked that this coop will be built as good as our house. That sounds good to me! Yesterday was a crazy busy day so I couldn't start, but today Earl is staying with us, so it seemed like the perfect time to get started. Dad played with Miles while I measured and cut all the 2x4's for the floor and wall framing. Then I built the floor all by myself, and was feeling all proud of myself.
Then dad helped me build the end walls. It's amazing how much faster the second one went.
The next step was attaching the floor to the leg posts, which is definitely a (at least) 2 man job.  (notice the temporary housing for the chicks, the former rabbit hutch)
My least favorite part took a long time: getting the site prepped. We needed to dig holes for the concrete piers, get it all leveled and spread out right. Of course we ran into sprinkler lines.
After some digging, and planning to re-route the sprinkler lines, we were finally ready to place the frame on the piers.
And that's when we called it a day. A good day of hard manual labor.

Oh, and no, the house isn't officially ours yet.... we hope to close June 15th.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Joe sent me to the hardware store to pick up some paint, and they had chicks for sale. I bought 10 chicks. (That's what husbands get for sending their wives to the hardware store)
Now that we are planning to stay in this house, I can finally get my chickens again. I've missed my girls ever since we left the Texas farm almost 3 years ago! They had a great variety, and I wanted to get a bunch of different kinds. Here's what I got

1 Silver Laced
2 Golden Sex-link
2 Black Sex-link
3 Americauna, these girls lay green eggs, which is why I got more than one of these
1 Brown Leghorn - the only kind that lays white eggs
1 Rhode Island Red

 Of course it will take about 5 months before we'll see any eggs at all, but chicks are fun too!

Thursday, May 2, 2013


A few weeks ago a new piece of land came for sale at a reasonable price. Since this short sale is anything from short, I started looking into the possibilities of building with gusto. I called a bunch of builders, and even found one that told us we could get the house we wanted for only slightly above budget. We met with Blue Pine Homes, and started the process of finalizing floor plans to get an accurate quote. I made some small revisions to a plan they sent us, and planned out my whole kitchen with the cool 3D kitchen planner from Ikea. I spent hours on Pinterest dreaming of all the amazing things I could put into this house. Our house is very nice, but it just isn't the style I would pick if I can build from scratch. At one point we were pressured by our real estate agent to decide whether we were building for sure, so someone else could claim Michie Lane. As we didn't have all the details, we couldn't make that decision, and I had a few very stressful days. We were able to hold off the agent, and past Monday we met with the builder to finalize finishes and get a more concrete price. This is when the builder dropped the bomb. When he had originally quoted us the price, he had actually quoted it on the original layout of the floorplan. It was a 1700 square feet home (on main level). Well, the actual floor plan he sent us, was 1900 square feet. Obviously it will cost more to build a bigger house. To make the story short, building was going to cost an additional $50,000 above our already higher price. I was disappointed. But at the same time I was glad. Glad to have a nice house to fall back on. Glad to know I won't have to move again. Glad that I could use some of our money on changing this house to better reflect my style. Glad that I can now plant a vegetable garden this summer. My sister Wendy has been posting pictures of her awesome garden progress, so when she sent yet another picture today, I decided to head outside and start tackling the weeds. I don't know when the last time is that my flower beds had any attention. It must be a long time! The dirt is all compacted, and weeds well established. Using a shovel and a little rake I started one foot at a time. After 2 hours of hard work, there's not much to show for it, but I'm happy with the progress anyways.

After all the weeds are gone, we'll have to bring in some more top soil and miracle grow, but at least there is a defined area to plant my veggies in.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Easy no-cook Strawberry Freezer Jam

Our local grocery store had an amazing deal on strawberries: 
8lbs for $2.99
So of course I couldn't resist, and bought 3 flats (or 24 lbs)
I've always wanted to make freezer jam, and lasts year's halapeno jam was not a big hit around here. After talking to some friends, I decided to use Ball's RealFruit Instant Pectin. 
This instant pectin uses about half the sugar as some of the other brands, and the biggest plus: no cooking involved. This means, no vitamins or flavor lost. And these strawberries are super sweet. 

I used the recipe from the Ball's container, but doubled it for each batch, as I will be making about 30 half pints. Each double recipe uses about 2 lbs of strawberries. The first thing to do is take out the top and clean them. I then dried them off a bit, before putting them in my Blendtec Blender and mashing them up. Much better than using a potato masher!

Then mix 1 1/3 cup of sugar with 4 Tbsp of Instant Pectin, and add the mashed strawberries to it. Now the most time consuming part: stir for 3 minutes. 
 You can store your jam in any airtight container, but I prefer to use the disposable kind (like glad or ziplock). I found a 6 pack Kroger brand for $1.97.
Just transfer the jam to the containers, making sure to keep about 1/2" at the top, allowing for expansion.  The double recipe will fill four 8oz containers.
 Put on the top, and they're ready for the freezer. Each batch only takes about 15 minutes.
Cost for 30- 8oz containers:
Strawberries: $5.98
Pectin: $10 (about 2 bottles at $5.15 each)
Containers: $10
Sugar: 10 cups = 4.5 lbs - $2.88

Total= $28.86 - or less than $1 per 8oz container!!!
And a video tutorial

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