Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New York City!

 Brandon's 28th birthday fell on a Monday and months before hand, he had asked for his birthday off of work. One day we got to talking and just randomly threw out there about visiting his uncle in NY that weekend and I suggested taking off that Tuesday as well so we could have more time, if we actually went.

Our trip slowly became concrete plans and we decided to head up there after a friends wedding that saturday.

The trip from the location of the wedding was about 5.5 hours and the boys did fantastically. James slept most of the way and isaiah either watched a movie or looked at books.
The drive was relatively smooth and we arrived around 10 or 11.
That night we planned out what we would do the following day.
We wanted to see some of the "must sees" and also just wanted to be able to explore. So uncle Stephen gave us some ideas and we all set off. Stephen stayed with us for about half the day and gave us pointers on how to navigate the subway and where to go before leaving us.
Since we started in Brooklyn, we went to Brooklyn park, walked across the Brooklyn bridge and then started to explore Manhattan.
Wall Street.
9/11 memorial.
Grand central station was super beautiful and just a buzz with people.
We didn't get toooo close to the Empire State Building but we saw it :)
Times Square was next.
We took isaiah to the m&m store and the Lego store :)
We wanted to see Central Park before the end of the day so we had an hour or two to spend there :)
Central Park was/is HUGE! We didn't get close to even exploring most of it. But the  boys loved all the boulders that were throughout the park.
It was the perfect place to stretch your legs and just relax.
On our trip we only brought the umbrella stroller so that we could easily navigate the subway and the ergo. The kids did great in both. The baby carrier was a life saver and james was able to take several naps whenever he felt like it through out the day :)
Brandons birthday started out with bagels from a local bagel shop and then a ride on the Staton Island Ferry.
We rather like free things and this was such a fun free ride! We got to see the Statue of Liberty from the ferry and it gave us a great view of the Manhattan skyline.
Every time we went down subway steps isaiah would pretend he was a bird and flap his "wings" :)
We walked the Highline trail that used to be a train trellace that went thru the city.  It gave us some great views and we were able to find a local coffee place to stop and sit for a bit :)
We had a great view of some construction work going on and the boys thought it was the best thing ever!
After walking around for a bit longer, we met up with brandons cousin Sarah and her two girls to go to the Central Park zoo and then we went and got dessert for brandons birthday!
It was a great way to end the day :)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Canning and more canning!!

We have been SO blessed this year with the amount of produce I've been able to buy/been given. I love knowing that this winter we will have plenty of blueberries, strawberries, peaches, peach jam, diced tomatoes and salsa in our freezer and in our basement. 
I went blueberry picking twice and got 4 gallons. The blueberries are all organic and pesticide free and are currently sitting in my freezer just waiting to be used in smoothies, oatmeal, muffins-yu name it! Isaiah eats them frozen like they are candy :)
I was able to buy 50 pounds of peaches that were seconds quality and I made most of them into peach jam and peach syrup. The syrup is to die for and is incredibly delicious over pancakes!!
Before the process began!
Hot water to be able to get the skins off.
Cold water to make it even easier.
These are the two huge bowls that contained the peach purée for the jam.
The stove was quite busy :) tomato sauce simmering, peaches cooking down for the jam and then peach syrup heating up.
For the syrup, I used my blender to make it. It was done in approximately 10 seconds. This blender is a beast.
After a long day, I was finally finished. Definitely worth all of the work!!
Two days later I set to work on a ton of tomatoes my mother in laws neighbor gave us!
Her garden is simply amazing and she uses it to bless others by giving away TONS of the produce!
This is only a fraction of the garden.
Mhmmm! She gave us all of these tomatoes, some bell peppers, and some delicious red potatoes!!! We were and are so grateful.
The tomatoes took a very long time to prep-but thanks to a little boy sleeping in until 10 am, I got everything ready to can.
(While isaiah watched Frozen :) )
The tomatoes were a particularly messy process-and I honk my floor is still somewhat sticky because of them :)
Tomatoes were everywhere :)
I was able to get 24 quarts of diced tomatoes and I have a bag or two of tomato sauce in the freezer. 
I was just given a few more tomatoes and I plan to can some salsa this evening with them.
See? Just a few ;)
Maybe one day I'll have a garden to where we can grow our own winter supply of food. And summer dinners. That would be awesome. For now, I'll just dream about it :)

Friday, July 17, 2015

The tale of homemade coffee creamer

Okay. Confession. I am a coffee creamer addict. 
It has to be creamy. And sweet. Can't forget the sweetness. Oh, and it has to have flavor.  Caramel is my favorite.
Recently we, as a family, have been become vegetarian. Mainly because it's cheaper but also because we are striving to make healthier habits for ourselves. That being said, I've been working on  cutting out most forms of sugar and processed foods and it's amazing how much we don't miss any of that. We have been able to see a difference in the way we feel and even look by adding more veggies and green smoothies into our diet and less sweets and it's been great! We love it.
(Im not saying that because we are vegetarian {while at home} we are super healthy. Because you can still be vegetarian and unhealthy. We just try to do what's best for us and take little steps at a time)
But I wasn't going to give up my coffee creamer. The stuff that was delicious and creamy and full of all sorts of chemicals to make it that way and that i ingested

Time went on and as I slowly started evaluating other things we ate, (we still don't eat perfectly!) I knew I wouldn't be able to keep drinking my coffee every day with this creamer added to it and the thought of drinking it black was not even a thought in my mind.
I didn't want to give up my creamer.
So I resorted to Pinterest and I looked up home made coffee creamers.
The result was pages and pages of beautiful looking creamers in glass jars and recycled coffee creamer containers perfectly photographed. And flavor choices upon flavor choices! I was so excited to stumble into this land of diy coffee creamer. I knew I wouldn't have any trouble finding a recipe that suited my tastes.

I pulled up several recipes that looked promising. I had everything on hand-coconut milk, dates, vanilla, cocoa powder, maple syrup, cream....and I went to work ( over the period of several days).

Every single recipe I tried out failed.
It was bitter.
Not sweet.
Not creamy.
Lacked flavor.
It was disappointing and I was not pleased. Especially after spending money on pure maple syrup pure vanilla extrac and dates amongst other things.
I figured I was doomed to give up coffee because I really didn't want to continue drinking the creamer I had been(such a turn around from where I started!).
Then. Someone told me about a more natural line of creamer that Coffeemate actually produces. It's called Natural Bliss.
It has four ingredients. 
Milk. Cream. Sugar. Natural flavor.

That's it. Nothing added to it to make it creamy-it was just those four simple ingredients. I could live with those :) and though it's not healthy per-se, it's something I feel much better about putting into my body on a daily basis.

The creamer only comes in small bottles and is more pricey than the other creamer I had been buying, therefore making me limit myself to only one cup a day(occasionally two on a weekend ;) ) to save myself money and at the same time not make myself fatter. It's a win win. And my coffee creamer search was over.

I might eventually try my hand at making a creamer again-but I'm going to give it some time. I wish I knew where I had messed up after trying several recipes!