Category Archives: Awesome Summer

Planning, Procrastinating, and What I Want to Accomplish this Summer

I wish you could all meet my mother.  She is a woman who knows how to get things done. She recently moved to the lovely little mountain community of Eckert, Colorado.  The yard was big and beautiful…but needed a whole lot of work.  I don’t get up there as often as I would like, but she sends me pictures. You should see it now. Every time I speak with her she’s finished another little project.  New fences, painting, planting, weeding,  transplanting, she’s tackled them all. She’s a wonder. They’re putting in a green house soon. Seriously.

I, her daughter, am nothing like her in that respect. Nope, not me. I have projects all right, and I’m pretty handy with Pinterest, if I do say so myself, but I’m not so great with the action part of getting things done.

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I’m sort of stuck in the planning stage. I love to plan. Oh, it just makes me so happy to sit down with my planner and dream of all the lovely things I’m going to accomplish. And after you plan it, you must highlight it with all kinds of colors according to category and importance. After that, you must make a list of everything you need, and that list has to be organized and categorized and amended fifty-billion times!

It’s the step after the list-making stage where I get stuck. It’s the doing.  I don’t know why, but sometimes it’s scary to start. Overwhelming, even. Maybe I take it too far, make the task too big. We’re not talking about remodeling a house here, people–we’re talking about small things like organizing a closet or cleaning out the fridge.

Once I start, if I ever start, I’m fine.  In fact, I usually enjoy whatever it is I’m doing. It’s like writing. Sometimes you stare at your computer screen, and you wonder, how am I going to turn this blank document into a story…a chapter…80,000 words? But then you’re clicking away at your keyboard, and you have no idea what you were so worried about.

We’re starting school again the third week in August. I have just two months to tackle my to-do list. The most important thing on that list is reorganizing our school area.  We have a fairly simple set up–a kitchen table and a bookcase–but toward the end of last year I came to the conclusion that wasn’t going to cut it for much longer.  My other big project is a book I’m writing. I’m at 50,000 words, and I would like to be finished around 80,000. As long as I don’t get distracted, I should have plenty of time.

There’s a few more little things I want to accomplish before the summer is over, like building a new bed for Weston, keeping up with the vegetable garden, and canning lots of summer produce.  I need to do quite a bit of freezer cooking, and I have a lot of sewing and soaping I want to get done.

I’m starting my lists and plans today, because frankly, I can’t live without them. This time I will progress past the planning to the doing stage. I’m thinking of starting with something really, really easy today–like organizing one shelf of the school bookshelf–just so I can check it off my list.  I figure that once several small items are checked off, I’ll have some real momentum to tackle the big stuff!

What are your summer projects or goals? How are you going to accomplish them?

Coconut Lime Sugar Scrub with Pink Sea Salt Recipe plus Free Label Download

If this sugar scrub doesn’t scream summer, I don’t know what does.  Scrubs are the easiest bath and body creation you can concoct. You can whip this scrub up in five minutes–and that includes digging everything out of your cupboards!

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Coconut Lime Sugar Scrub with Pink Sea Salt

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup pink sea salt (or regular sea salt, if that’s what you have on hand)

1/4 coconut oil

1/2 tsp vitamin e oil

15 – 20 drops lime essential oil*

Mix everything up! It might take a few moments to combine the oil with the salt and sugar, but just keep stirring. Transfer to a pretty jar. 

The oil in this scrub can make the tub or shower slick, so use extra caution not to slip! 

*using certain citrus oil, like lime, in a scrub could make you more sensitive to the sun (since you rinse the oil off, this isn’t nearly as much of an issue in a scrub as it is in something like a lip balm). If you plan on going out in the sun, just make sure you play it safe and slather on some sunscreen.

Click the picture below to go to the free label download.

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First Year Growing Tomatillos

After a long and turbulent early spring, my garden is finally in, and it seems to be thriving. I’m growing all the veggies I started in this post, plus a few (couple dozen) more I couldn’t resist from the nursery. This must be our year for peppers, because we walked out with four chili peppers, one Big Jim pepper, one cherry pepper, and six various kinds of bell peppers–and that doesn’t count the twelve I started from seed! We also brought home a four-pack of tomatillos. I have never in my life grown, or know anyone who grows, tomatillos. Jake had a tomatillo sauce at a Mexican restaurant in Denver once, and loved it. So we thought, why not?

Tomatillo

So far the tomatillos are the stars of the garden. They have tripled their size and are already starting to bloom.

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My heirloom tomatoes are close behind, and the Early Start tomatoes I started from seed are right behind them.

A little tip for growing tomatoes–pull off a few of the bottom leaves and plant them deep in the soil. Their furry little stem will sprout roots and by mid-summer you will have more tomatoes than you know what to do with! I’ve heard you can do this with tomatillos as well, but I haven’t tested it.

This is one of my Early Start tomatoes. With the weather as crazy as it was this spring, they had a bit of a rough start. It's warmed up and they're doing great now!
This is one of my Early Start tomatoes. With the weather as crazy as it was this spring, they had a bit of a rough start. It’s warmed up and they’re doing great now!

And look-a friendly garden visitor!!! Unfortunately, it’s resting on a little weed that sprouted up right next to one of my tomatoes.

LadyBug

 

 

Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe

My son was offended when I told him I was going to make chocolate zucchini bread. He was truly horrified that I was going to defile perfectly good zucchini bread with chocolate. He’s not a huge chocolate kid. Honestly, he’s not a huge dessert kid, but it’s growing on him.

My daughter? Yeah, she was pleased….

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Anyway, I found the original recipe on Taste of Home’s website, and I’m pretty sure it was one I cut out from my Grandma’s magazine back in 1996. I only made two tiny changes; I used white whole wheat flour and I cooked it in a bundt pan. It turned out great. Both my daughter and my son loved it.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

2 Cups Sugar

1 Cup Vegetable Oil

3 Eggs

3 Tsp Vanilla Extract

2  Cups Whole Wheat White Flour

1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder

1 Tsp Sea Salt

1 Tsp Baking Soda

1 Tsp Cinnamon

1/4 Tsp Baking Powder

2 Cups Shredded Zucchini

 

1. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla until blended. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and baking powder in a separate bowl. Gradually beat into the wet ingredients until blended. Stir in zucchini. Transfer to greased Bundt Pan.

2. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 – 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool before slicing.

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Summer Reading for Preschoolers – Duck in the Truck

Duck in the Truck was my son’s favorite book for quite a while. I don’t remember it all now, but I had the whole thing memorized at one time. I even recited it for him on a drive back from a vacation to Texas (I had foolishly forgotten the book at home).

The rhyming flow of the book also makes it super fun to read out loud. If you haven’t read it with your kiddos yet, I highly recommend checking it out from the library. Happy summer reading!

Awesome Summer – Playing in the Creek

My mother was, shall we say…a wee bit stuffy about things when I was growing up. Why was she like this? Because she loved me, and because I was horrendously accident prone – I broke two of the tails off the vertebrates in my neck on two separate occasions before I turned eighteen. So basically she packed me in cotton and antibacterial soap and I grew up mostly just fine.

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So you can probably understand my shock when she said it was fine for my two munchkins to play/swim in the creek outside her house fully dressed and without the proper creek-splashing footwear. And you know what? She was right, it was fine. More than fine – it was a blast. The two of us even ended up sitting in lawn chairs in the creek with our pants rolled up to ours knees while we soaked our feet and watched the kids play. Crazy day. Crazy awesome day! So, what are you waiting for – go find yourself a creek to play in!

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Summer Reading – If You Give a Moose a Muffin

You’ve probably heard of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. You might have even heard of If You Give a Pig a Pancake, but today we’re giving all our attention to Moose. Dear Moose, you are my very favorite.

If You Give a Moose a Muffin at Amazon.com

If you haven’t read this book with your kiddos, go get it right now. Now! I’m sure your family will love Moose as much as we do! Happy Reading!

 

Family Friendly Salsa Recipe – Mild and Full of Flavor

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I love spicy salsa, and by spicy I mean burn your tongue and make you cry spicy. My husband and kids don’t like it that way. Weird, huh? I also like homemade salsa way better than straight from the can, and I don’t mind using a few shortcuts to make it. Using the Pioneer Woman’s Restaurant Style Salsa as a starting point, I created a salsa that is family friendly and still has great flavor. Want it hot? Chop up some jalapenos and toss ’em in.

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1/2 7 oz can roasted green chilies (toss the other half of the can in some taco meat)
  • handful of fresh cilantro (about half a grocery store bunch)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Chop the cilantro, and then mix with the onions, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and green chilies. Add the sugar, cumin, and salt.
  2. Cut the lime in half, and then squeeze the juice over the tomato mixture, mix well.
  3. Add more seasoning if desired.

This makes about four cups of salsa, if you’re going to store it in the fridge for more than a couple days I suggest you boil it over the stove for about five minutes. It still tastes great that way!

Do not can this recipe! I have not tested the ph, and have no idea if it’s safe in a hot water bath.  

Awesome Summer – Single Serving Lemonade Recipe

My son loves lemonade, and I don’t care for all the added junk in the powdered mixes. Don’t get me wrong – we use them every once in a awhile, but I would rather just mix up a glass with fresh ingredients when he wants one.

Our recipe is super tart and super sweet – adjust your ingredients according to your personal tastes.

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Serves 1

  • 1/4 cup sugar (we like to use turbinado sugar – it gives it a molasses kind of taste)
  •  1/4 lemon juice
  • ice
  • water
  1. Mix the sugar and the lemon juice together in a 16 oz glass. If your sugar doesn’t want to dissolve, you can heat the mixture up in the microwave for 10 – 20 seconds (do this before you add the ice and water)
  2. Fill the glass up with ice, and then fill the rest of the way up with water.
  3. Give it a good stir, and enjoy!

Awesome Summer – The Last Chocolate Chip Cookie Review

The Last Chocolate Chip Cookie from Not Without Salt

Summer demands chocolate chip cookies! As a perpetual procrastinator, I very rarely have the ingredients in my pantry to make them – the last batch of cookies I made were the Pillsbury refrigerator dough kind. This recipe calls for some ingredients you probably don’t keep on hand – but they are definitely worth a trip to the store. They are so good! I don’t even like chocolate chip cookies that much, and I can tell these are winners. Go make some cookies!

Click the pink link above for the recipe!