Week thirty-one of fun & crazy

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Bo on the Go!

We start out with last Sunday, when we had the triplet cousins over the house for the weekend.

That day, I found out my brother’s suburban that he left me to take the triplets to the church LOCKED when all the doors were closed and the keys were in the ignition.  The car was ON, running with AC, so don’t think I’m a bad auntie, but it was a terrifying 20-minutes waiting for triple A to show up. The triplets seemed fine.  I almost vomited.

My brother picked up his kids, and let me know that he keeps a key hidden under the vehicle because he’s done it before too….

That would have been nice to know BEFORE SUNDAY!

Anyway, the entire weekend was great being with them, and they watched Bo on the Go from Netflix.  (How can one NOT have Netflix nowdays?)

My big one moved up in swim class!

My oldest moved up in swim class this week!

 Monday’s are swim class for my two oldest.  The biggest of the little people got moved up to another class, which also means I had to change the time.  Oh well, at least he knows how to swim.  They have this neat ritual where the swimmers who move up in their levels get a medal and ring big bells.  It’s all very exciting and a good way to celebrate in a 30-second time frame.

My shadow at one of my project sites.

My shadow at one of my project sites.

I took this photo on one of the roads we were chip sealing.  I put this photo on Instagram, where I go into detail about how my job is probably going to change.  It was hard at first to grasp this possibility, but as the week went on, people were praying for me, and I kept analyzing it and mulling over the possibilities, I’m ready for a big <secret> meeting next week that will be a change in my life, no matter what the powers that be tell us.

I am a realist you know.  This is as real as it gets.

To my children: Jobs don’t stay still.  You need to acknowledge that people who run businesses and are in management can do what they need to survive and thrive.

I just hope it’s the right thing to do.  That’s where I’m struggling.  I don’t trust the management where I’m at.  I don’t leave though because the job is a good one, and I don’t need the drama of changing things, unless I can’t handle the people that I work with.  So far, that’s been a blessing.  The people that surround me are reasonable and decent.  Management, eh, that’s just a different story all together.

 HWYQUEEN

I think one of the coolest things about working in the field is to meet very interesting people.  The owner of this license plate is a female traffic control person, who stands at the beginning or end of a project and helps direct traffic.  She stands almost all day in the hot sun, and I can’t even imagine the stories she would have to tell of her adventures as a female in a male dominated industry and she’s not even an Engineer!  At least I get to go home every night.  On this project, she and her fellow crew members live in hotels during the week, something I DO NOT ENVY at all.

It truly makes me feel blessed.

My oldest left us for the first time ever with his grandma to go see his cousins.  I only have the one photo that was sent to me from grandma.  These are the times though that I know he won’t forget.

Breakfast with the cousins away from mom & dad. =)

Breakfast with the cousins away from mom & dad. =)

Beautiful tomatoes from our garden!

Beautiful tomatoes from our garden!

These beauties came off our Roma tomato plant in our urban garden from our backyard.  I planted our seeds late for our San Marzano plants, but this was a purchased organic plant from the store.

We made my mom’s recipe of salsa, which I haven’t made in over a year, at least.

This is another one of those things I hope to post on the blog someday, but until then, here’s photos of some of the ingredients.

salsa ingredients

Opened up the new watermelon knife this week!

Opened up the new watermelon knife this week!

I finally opened up my new watermelon knife I received as a prize from Instructables for winning a contest last year.  (Don’t judge me for not opening it.)

 

Cutting the watermelon with a watermelon knife is incredibly easy.

Cutting the watermelon with a watermelon knife is incredibly easy.

I tried making watermelon jelly, again, and it still came out runny.  I will get this recipe right before the end of the summer!

I give props to the makers of watermelon knives.  You don’t know how nice it is to have one, until you have one.

As for the jelly, well, I’m still working on it.  The recipe seems so easy, yet I can’t get it to stay solid for the life of me and I think it’s all about the reduction of it.

The last thing we did for the week was go to my uncle’s house for a family get-together.  Like my husband reminded me, we will not regret spending time with family.  He’s so wise.  Even if there’s ten-million other things to do.

Family time fun.

Having fun with the family is time we will not regret.

Keep it real friends!


Sweet & Tangy Tomato Jam

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Sweet & Tangy Tomato JamSometimes having too many tomatoes is a good thing!

I have all the cheesy lines memorized for healthy living:

Nothing’s better for you than homemade!

With homemade, you know what’s in it!

and

Healthy eating starts with fresh ingredients.

The lines could go on and on for healthy eating.

You know what makes healthy eating difficult for me?  Spending time making it.

I’ve got three precious little ones to take care of, a husband, two dogs and aging parents.  It’s seemingly impossible to set three-to-four hours aside to make homemade-anything, let alone tomato jam.

But I did it. And I made it twice.  It was that good and totally worth it to use up the tomatoes growing in our backyard.

 June 25th - our first harvest of tomatoesOur first harvest of tomatoes

We were still thankfully harvesting tomatoes in July, and had a bowl full of them that weighed in at just over 5-lbs.

Five lbs of harvested, homegrown tomatoesThe recipe I whipped up this tomato jam from is here.

How do I describe tomato jam?  Well, it’s pretty much like ketchup, but 1000 times better.

This jam has a small kick to it so my children didn’t care for it much, but I couldn’t stop eating it because it’s just all the flavor’s I love – spicy from the chili flakes, sweet with honey, tangy with the ginger, and above all, it’s made out of tomatoes!  I love tomatoes.

These are of course, all my original photos and recipe card made for your use, based off of the link above.


The first thing you do is finely chop up the five pounds of tomatoes.  As I cut them by hand, this process alone took at least 30-minutes and with kids asking me for things throughout the entire process, I think it took me about an hour to cut them all up.

Finely chop tomatoesI cut the tomatoes in half and then in small slivers.  Most of the photos are from the first batch.  (The second batch was more chopped up in chunks, and that came out just as awesome.)

Next you place the chopped up tomatoes in a pan.  I used a stock pot because I was too lazy to clean my large wide pan.  (I’m not kidding.)

Add chopped tomatoes to pan

Add all ingredients togetherAdd all the other ingredients – 2-1/2 cups honey, 1/2 cup bottled lime juice, 1 tablespoon sea salt, 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger, 1 tablespoon red chili flakes, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves.

Mix everything up and begin the cooking. Mix prior to cooking thouroughly

After the mixture comes to a roiling boil, set it on medium low and simmer.  STIR IT about every 15 to 30 minutes.  I set a timer for 15-minutes every time I went to stir it.  All that work and I certainly wasn’t going to let it burn.

Mine took close to 2 and a half hours to finally look like the photo below.

Tomato Jam is ready to can!

The first batch I placed in 16 oz Ball Mason Jars to eventually give away to friends and family to test out.  I did not seal the jam and made that clear when I gave the samples out that it had to be refrigerated and eaten right away.

 Non-canned tomato jam

I canned the second batch and ended up with five –8 oz. Ball canning jars and one full pint to eat.The second batch of jam I made getting canned.I am in no way, shape or form familiar with canning food.  I used the internet to help me, specifically this site: Canning Tomatoes on Instructables.

Five are now sitting in the pantry waiting for Christmas to be given away and the sixth one was consumed over the course of a month.  Happy to say it was good to the last spread of it!

Canned tomato jam

Total time involved – After chopping all the tomatoes I would say it took me a good four hours to get this recipe down.  There’s almost no way to mess it up though, unless you burn it.

I used this spread for a substitute for ketchup in many recipes, specifically for a couple crock pot ones.  I also spread it on crackers for snacks with cream cheese, and took it to a potluck where it got a great response.

I was surprised that some people were reluctant to try it!  I just told them that it was like a tangy version of ketchup, and a few co-workers told me that hadn’t tasted anything like it.  That’s the kind of stuff I like to make – surprisingly good.  Tomato Jam Recipe Card

Let me know if you try it and as always, thanks for reading!

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10 Things to try to save those fresh garden tomatoes

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10Things to Save TomatoesI am so excited about our first crop of tomatoes grown in our tiny backyard garden.

We’ve had non-fruitful strawberry plants so far but the tomatoes…  I looked at these plants the other day and told myself “Yikes!” What are we going to do with all of those tomatoes?

Here’s our little progession of growth. Just planted tomatoes - March 15th

May 7th tomato growth

May 16th tomato growth May 23rd tomato growth

June 25th - our first harvest of tomatoes

The coolest thing about having home grown, backyard tomatoes is to eat them with the knowledge that they were untainted with pesticides and are as fresh as they could possibly be off the vine.

I don’t want them to go to waste!

We will be giving them away to family and friends, as well as sharing plenty of salsa at the summer time potlucks, but there’s just so many tomatoes coming off these six plants!

Here are the ten things I plan on doing with these tomatoes.

1.  Enjoying one with a salad or as a side EVERY DAY. 

The health benefits to eating a salad everyday are indescribable so I will choose to use those delicious fruits to get my salad into my daily diet.  But the days where I’m just lazy and cut it up and eat it straight are more likely.

2.  Cook with the fresh tomatoes where I can in “everyday meals.” 

You know the type – where you cook some chicken and veggies, and decide to throw in a cut up tomato – because you can.

Tomatoes are a power food.  Cooked tomatoes release lycopene and from what my trainer tells me and what I read around the net, it’s something my body can do amazing things with.

Instructables has a great resource for Easy Tomato Recipes that I will be checking out in the near future too.

3.  Make fresh salsa.

One of the blessings of having my mother around still is that she makes this terrific pico-de-gallo type of salsa, with hand chopped tomatoes, green onions, red onions, jalepenos, cilantro, lemon juice and salt.  Seven ingredients that can last about four-five days in the fridge and can be served on anything from eggs to tacos to eating straight from the bowl.  (Seriously, we’ve done it.)

4.  Learn to make dried tomatoes.

I found this set of instructions that not only look easy, but sun-dried tomatoes are one of my favorite things to eat.  Oh yeah, they can be used in recipes too.

5.  Make my own sauces.  For my house, I will probably learn how to make spaghetti sauce first.

An apparently time-consuming process, I found a great resource on Food.com to make my own spaghetti sauce that I want to try.  My guess is that I will have 12 cups of tomatoes at some point, and it will be worth the 2 to 3 hours to learn to make this sauce.

6.  Make and freeze tomato soup.

The resources are incredibly abundant on the subject but I found these recipes I am going to have to read more about later.

Pinterest Search Results for tomato soup

Tomato Soup Search on Instructables

7.  Make tomato jam.

I have never even heard of this until I started searching Pinterest.  The Garnish with Lemon blog has a recipe for Sweet and Tangy Tomato Jam that sounds so good, I may have to try to make it before anything else on this list.  Maybe.

8.  Buy some bacon.  Make BLT’s.

Bacon is one of those foods that everything goes with.  [EVERYTHING!]

If I knew it weren’t so bad for my health, I would eat it every day.  Along with my tomatoes.  (I’m not kidding.)

I have to do this at least once this summer, just to say I did it.  Oh and I skip the bread and use whole wheat tortillas.  It’s part of the life style change we’ve adopted now.

9.  Make some freezer meals to throw in the crock pot.

Why haven’t I done this already you ask?  Because I’m blessed to have the most amazing husband in the world that cooks as long as I clean.  (And I’m not very good at that anyway.)  It’s awesome.

But, he’s not always home and eating out shouldn’t really be an option when he’s gone.  I found this blog with recipes of meals the mom has tried and tested, straight from the freezer into the crockpot.  Sounds like a win-win to me.  I will be replacing all the “canned” tomatoes with my fresh version of course but the freezer part will stay the same.  I’m sure Pinterest will be a great resource as well.

10.  Learn to can tomatoes.

Do I need a new Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker to can?  Maybe, but probably not.

Here are the resources I found:

Instructables Guide to Canning Tomatoes

How To Preserve Tomatoes by Mom Prepares

Plus, I get to learn a new life skill.  That’s a bonus right there.

Cheers and happy-full-bellies to you this summer!