Thursday, February 15, 2018

{Foodie Post No. 14} Cranberry Relish

I love cranberries, ever since Thanksgiving season I had been waiting for their price to drop so I could stock up for the upcoming cranberry-less season. Finally, two or three weeks ago, it did. I bought 3 32ounce bags for $6.00. Most of them went straight into the freezer or into recipes I’d been waiting to try but I kept one bag out with the intention of making jellied Relish.
My family’s only traditional Cranberry Relish recipe involves jello. I’m not really a fan of hello. I always eat it on thanksgiving because, well, tradition, but Wesley’s family’s traditional Relish is what seems to be the more popular among “my group” as well as on Pinterest. It’s the one orange, one bag of cranberries, and a cup of sugar ground together. I love that stuff, I’ve even taken to adding pineapple, coconut, nuts, or whatever I’m in the mood for to it.
But no, I wanted to try making and canning jellied Relish. I’m not a huge fan of the canned stuff, it’s odd to eat jelly by the disc? Scoop? But I thought homemade would be better. I searched Pinterest, got a few ideas, and tried my hand at it. The result was super yummy, even Wesley who straight up hates the store bought canned version, sang it’s praises. But that could be because it didn’t turn out a whole lot like the jellied kind. ;P

I boiled my berries in sugar water until they popped and got a little syrupy. Next I puréed them in my ninja blender then added a few essential oils and boiled it down a bit more before putting it into pint jars for water bathing. From my research it would appear it (1) didn’t reach a high enough temp to “gel” or (2) needed more sugar and more boiling to make it gel like typical jams. Either way, it didnt gel. It did thicken nicely and could be served in a puddle and eaten but we’ve enjoyed it more like jelly. We’ve put it in yogurt, on biscuits, and spread over creme filled crepes.

32 ounces Cranberries
4 cups water
3-4 cups Sugar
2 drops Orange EO
1 drop Clove EO
1 drop Nutmeg EO

Boil cranberries in water and sugar until they pop. Cool slightly. Purée in blender if you want smooth jelly, smash with potato masher for more texture.
Add essential oils.
Boil until desired consistency. Boil to 220 to gelling point if you have a candy thermometer and want to attempt to get the bellies version that I didn’t succeed in.
Fill jars.
Water bath for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Goodbye 2017

2017 really was a good year for us. When I contemplated sending out holiday cards I couldn’t come up with enough interesting details to enclose a note, it was a sort of mundane year with just a few blips of excitement.
A few of my favorite memories are:

Having my kitchen floor tiled, an outlet added, and the cabinets and counters leveled and anchored. That is something I still appreciate each and every day and will until we move on to a different home.

Celebrating Jerusha’s 2nd birthday. She was so excited and adorable both on her actual birthday and a couple days later when her daddy was home to celebrate.

Our 3rd anniversary. Wesley was on the road for work but still managed to make me feel loved and cared for. We had a fun fun get away to Indy which fulfilled what my expectations for our honeymoon had been; he surprised me with a cruise so no complaints. ;)

Finding out I was pregnant with our third child. I was so longing for another baby and was extra thrilled that I found out on Wesley's birthday and could share the news with him on a special day :)

The week we spent with my family exploring the Upper Peninsula.

Our grand adventure out to Colorado. Looking back it seems like that was such a huge endeavor but I'm sure that's just because of my incredibly pregnant state as I don't remember it being too overwhelming at the time. It did take a lot of planning and work but we had such a fun time! I also loved doing my review of it for the blog :)

My birthday was so full this year and I certainly count that as a highlight of the year.

In September of this past year one of my oldest closest friends got married and I was honored to share in that day with her as a bridesmaid. It was her heart's desire to join the wife-club so I was very happy for her and rank those wedding prep and wedding day memories on this list.

Thanksgiving season will each and every year make this list. It doesn't even matter how many things might go wrong or how hectic and stressful the week of Thanksgiving may end up, dedicating so much time to loving family, rejoicing and reminiscing over God's blessings will always be the best.

As I've tried compiling this post I've had to narrow down the memories.. I'm such a nostalgic person and loved the whole year! I am just loving this life I am living, most of all because I love the Leader of my life and the one's He has given me to love and care for (or be cared for by!) along the way.

The day after Thanksgiving my brother Daniel took some family pictures for us so I'll share a few of them here.

 Happy 2018! I hope this year is filled with blessings, the grace to overcome the trials you'll face, and the strength to trust God during those times. ~Haley

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Local Blessings

Tonight I'm in a particularly pregnancy-hormone-induced thankful and reflectively mindset. The frame of mind where I find myself crying about the good little things of life, not the pregnancy-hormone-induced-sister-version that has me lonely, sad, and depressed crying.
Today I'm most thankful that I live close to family and not only that but close to family who will, at the drop of a hat, interrupt their schedule to take care of me and mine.

It was -4 with a -18 windchill and I had a plan. I was going to bundle the girls up, run over to the post office, have a quick shopping trip to the Dollar General here in town, then head to my mom's. She broke her arm Monday and I was going to 'baby-sit' and decorate my baby brother's birthday cake while she went to see the surgeon and schedule surgery.

I got the first part of my plan locked in; kids were bundled, then buckled into their seats. I started scraping my windshield before I realized it'd be more effective if I started the car first to make use of the defroster.. And that's when my house of cards fell. My car, beloved Ford Expedition, wouldn't start. The kids were already in it, what a pain to undo and take them back inside. What to do? I climbed in with them and called my mom. She was able to tell me I didn't need to undo the girls yet because she'd send my brother Daniel to try and start my car. He was at my house in well under five minutes. Not being sure how much effort it would take to get my car going and because he discovered his jumper cables weren't in his truck, he just transferred the girls to his toasty cab and drove us to mommy's, plus that would save me the effort of taking them out for our little shopping trip and post office visit. The girls stayed there to play and we went back. He jumped my car and it started right up. I guess it just doesn't like the cold, or is going to need a new battery..
I went my way and he went his. I left the car running during my errands hoping to charge the battery some.

This evening when I was ready to leave my family's I went to start the car before I loaded the girls up and it wouldn't even turn over. Instead of going through the effort of standing out in the cold to jump it Daniel, once again, just loaded us up in his truck and dropped us off at home. He said he would try to charge my battery in the morning and see if it is the problem.

So there you have the story of my day.

Sometimes I would struggle to see good on a day like today; I would just focus on the nasty miserable cold, the hopelessness of a future without my car reliably starting, the time shift in my plans, and etc. but today, I am just thankful and blessed.
And I am so very blessed by family, specifically Daniel, today.

I hope you are given the grace to see the little blessings and find reasons to rejoice, even in this nearly unbearable cold midwest weather, or wherever you are and whatever sort of weather you've got ;) ~Haley

The only pictures I have of the day are from Silas' "party".
Silas is very into all things with motors so this is the cake I made him

Wyn hopped right on the back of his new toy :)

Eowyn having fun with an over sized bow

Monday, December 18, 2017

Lunch Adventures

(Posted a week late because - life.)

Today's lunch was an adventure.
The day started hard for me. I had no energy, I stayed up late working on an alteration and then once I went to bed it was up a couple times to comfort the girls, a couple times for pregnancy discomfort.. just very little sleep. When the girls woke up I was dragging, we had power bars for breakfast because we're out of cereal and I just wasn't fixing breakfast.
Finally when lunch time rolled around I was feeling a little more alive and as Jerusha brought me a red potato asking if we could play baseball with it I decided, "no, but let's cook it for lunch, okay?" And that became the plan;  we'd make breakfast for lunch.

We diced up a couple red potatoes and put them in the skillet with butter, olive oil, and some seasonings. I pulled the eggs out of the refrigerator. So I had the start to a decent breakfast for lunch but it needed the “fluff”. I needed to whip up a batch of pancakes.. or biscuits.. or something.. something like doughnuts. (Doughnuts? Donuts? I never know..)

I’d been wanting to try doughnuts out for awhile so I pulled up Pinterest on my phone looking for a ‘quick cake donut recipe’ and thumbed through the donut section of my go-to recipe book. I quickly discovered donuts aren’t a ‘quick’ recipe but since I’m not one to let following exact instructions stand in my way I settled on a recipe and went for it, skipping the ‘refrigeraterate for one hour’ part.

They really turned out okay. No thanks to Éowyn who kept pulling a chair up and hanging on me as I tried to quickly cut and fry three at a time. My oil kept getting too hot because I was using such a tiny pan and being inconsistent with my timing. I was frustrated with Wyn and kept putting her down telling her to “just leave me alone for a few minutes”. Jerusha, ever the wonderful sensitive sister stood up on the chair and yelled at me “hey, don’t be angry at my Wyn sister” then she leaned her head on to my arm and began petting me “You is awesome at this Mommy, You is just awesome at making  food. Wyn is okay, okay?”
The failings of my donuts were (1) the oil temperature fluctuating too much and (2) the dough not being chilled so being difficult to work with and being dense from lack of proper rising. A couple soaked up a little too much grease but over all I was happy with them.
On another day, with proper planning ahead, I’d like to do it again.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Infamous Scarf

You may recall my mention of this scarf back in 2015 when I was resolving to complete unfinished projects...

When Wesley and I were engaged in the fall of 2013 we picked out this yarn together and I started knitting away.
It's been so long that I honestly don't even remember the details that led to that happening but I think it was something down the lines of:
Wesley: Scarves are never long enough to wrap around my neck and tuck into my coat right.
Me: Really? Pick some yarn out and I can knit you one!
.....who knew I meant I could with four years time? :P

So, I've finally completed it and in time for the cold season four years later. Obviously I never worked very faithfully on it or it wouldn't have taken so long. I am by no means a fast knitter but this fall when I got it back out to work on and did so in every minute of spare and idle handed time I made good progress and more than doubled what had taken me three years thus far. My problem was always paying enough attention to knitting in order to keep up with the pattern so this year with being home alone so many evenings, the girls tucked sleeping into bed, I would work for a couple hours or just half an hour a night and it went pretty quickly.

I am so very excited to have finished this and I'm pretty sure Wesley is more excited to finally have it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


As part of the Smith Family Thanksgiving Gift Exchange we joined together to fill goodie bags for the kiddo's who aren't old enough to participate in buying gifts..

I decided to make playdough and followed my sister's  recipe. I actually chose to double it the color individual chunks as to her way of making smaller batches and coloring each individually.

Ingredients: Oil, Flour, Salt, Water, Cream of Tartar, dye and glitter

"cooked" and ready to color

It was about 11PM and I'd already put her in bed but she sweetly peaked in the kitchen and said "You waking me up mommy" so I let her stay up and help. It ended up being a lot of fun and she got quite the kick out of telling everyone she made her cousin's playdough :)

A lump of dough with food coloring and glitter

Jerusha enthusiastically kneading

This became my favorite color; teal dye with green and blue glitter

I used those handy little dressing containers in order to give each child a couple of colors. I wasn't sure they'd seal well enough but I am happy to report they did! and it's really been the perfect amount of play dough for my girls. Just enough to keep track of but not too disappointing if it starts to dry out when it gets lost under the couch..

Colored Playdough

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • Food coloring
  • Saucepan
  • 1 cup flour
  1. Combine water, oil, salt, cream of tartar, and food coloring in a saucepan and heat until hot.
  2. Remove from heat and add flour.
  3. Stir, then knead until smooth. The cream of tartar makes this dough last 6 months or longer, so resist the temptation to omit this ingredient if you don't have it on hand.
  4. Store this dough in an airtight container or a Ziploc freezer bag.

Thanksgiving 2017: Days of Thankfulness

I was a little nervous this years Thanksgiving was going to be a disaster as a few of my siblings had flu like symptoms just days before hand. I was so worried about avoiding sickness that I went as far as to avoid my family for an entire five days, and I brought ingredients to my house in order to stay ahead of the game and get Mexican Wedding Cookies done.

I spent Thanksgiving in all of my favorite ways. Starting the week before by making 281 Coconut Bonbon's with siblings. Sickness then occurred and I made 182 Mexican Wedding Cookies from the comfort of my healthy home. Tuesday it was back to my parents as sickness seemed to have subsided and with a little help from a couple siblings I made 257 Buckeyes.

Wednesday it was back for Pie Day. This years selection was 2 Pumpkin, 2 Caramel Pecan, 1 Apple, 1 Apple Cranberry, 2 French Silk, 1 Mincemeat, and 1 Lemon Meringue. I left before the French Silk were made but Thursday I was happy to see Shelby had pulled through and completed them.

Thursday morning after having our own little family breakfast we headed to my family's where we first passed out our Thankful Gifts to the family before we all worked on setting up tables, putting out table settings, and finishing the food. I added my own-made-by-myself-not-a-traditional-dish Creamy Corn to the spread which was exciting to me. This years spread was a Turkey my Dad smoked, a roasted turkey by mommy, a ham, Stuffing, Oyster Dressing, Home-made Noodles, Greenbean Casserole, Sweet Potato Casserole, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Creamed Corn, Grandma Nancy's Orange Sauerkraut, Layer Salad, Cranberry Relish, Cranberry Jello Salad, Stuffed Celery, and Mommy's Rolls. I think that's it..

The rest of the expected family arrived and we commenced feasting.

We played games, ate lots of pie and treats, and ended the evening with leftover sandwiches on the few leftover rolls. The guys all played basketball and probably some football, I stayed inside and pigged out.

Friday morning the girls, Wesley and I were up reasonably early and headed back to my family's where we had our traditional pie for breakfast along with some beautifully fried over easy eggs and sausage links, courtesy of my mom who believes in protein for breakfast ;)

We hung out Friday playing games, the guys target shooting, and feasting again on leftovers. We also had a very brief visit from my sister Avery and her little family, so, for a couple minutes this Thanksgiving season ALL 14 of my siblings (counting myself) were together! <3

Saturday morning we headed over to the Smith's as they were celebrating Thanksgiving then. We participated in the family gift exchange, I'm excited about the gift I received and will likely devote a blog post to it before long, and followed that with more feasting. We had another fairly traditional dinner and spent teh rest of our day hanging out and playing games.

That sums up how Thanksgiving 2017 went for us. Perfectly. We have so many things to be Thankful to God for and focusing on it for a few days a year will always make up my favorite days of the year.