Picking berrries & making jam

This is how I spent the bulk of my weekend.  And it was awesome.  My mom came down to visit and wanted to get some use out of the big water bath canning pot she got me for my birthday so we set to work.  We drove out Smith’s Berry Barn which is the cutest place ever!  Not only do they have berries and produce to pick they also have a store on site where you can get just-picked fruits and veggies along with the most amazing gift shop ever.  I wanted everything! But I settled for a $30 bottle of lotion (side note, I know that is ridiculous but I HAD to have it).

Here are some snaps from the picking:

Bonus points for being run by Cougs :)

My mom :)

Amanda & me

So after we picked the berries (which we did in about 2 hours in the rain) we turned them into jam.  This was the 1st time I’ve made jam by myself.  Good thing my mom was around to help Amanda and I out or who knows what would have happened without her.

While my mom opted for a traditional recipe and used sugar, Amanda and I were determined to make “healthy” jam so we used honey and agave nectar.  Here’s the recipe we followed.  If I were to do it again, I’d cut way back on lemon juice and add a little more berries.  I wanted 3 solid pints and the original recipe got me 2.5.  I’d do something more like this:

Blackberry Honey Jam

  • 1 box no sugar pectin
  • 6 cups mashed  berries
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup honey or agave (we used a mix of both)

First, remove all the debris from your berries (my mom is an expert at this and does it in the field.  I learned the hard way and had to do it at home), lightly rinse with water and then mash them.

Definitely a little confusing to know how mashed is mashed enough.

And then measure out the cups.

Add the lemon juice and then bring to a boil on the stove.

Once your berries are on the stove, mix your honey/agave and pectin together and add to your berries once they start to boil.  Make sure you’re stirring this whole time and keep stirring (without reducing heat) until they set.  This was a little vague in the recipe we used and it turned out to be about 10 minutes.  You can test for “setness” but putting a little spoonful of berries in the freezer for about a minute.  You can easily tell when things have jelled.  Just keep cooking until set.

Then pour into jars.

Wipe off the rims, add the lids (make sure you get a tight seal) and add the rings.  Then put them in a water bath.

Make sure there is about 2 inches of water above the jars and bring to boil.  Put the lid on and boil for 20 minutes.  Remove the jars, check to make sure they sealed (the lid should be flat not popped) and store in a cool, dry place.

And there you go.  Jam.  If they don’t set you can pop them back into a water bath for another 20 minutes (2 had two jars that needed a 2nd round).

I also froze one flat for smoothies.  Lay all the berries out on a cookie sheet to freeze individually and then transfer to a freezer bag later.

I ended up with 7 jars of jam (a few from my mom’s berries) and an additional 2.5 gallon bags of frozen berries for smoothies.  It seems like a lot but I’m sure they’ll go fast.  Especially the frozen berries.  I’m actually considering going back next weekend for a few more and to check on their peppers and tomatoes which are supposed to be ready.  Now that I’ve tackled jam I’m ready to move onto tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Too bad my mom can’t come over every weekend.

Who out there has made jam?  Any favorite recipes?  Has anyone canned tomatoes and can tell me what I need to do for that?

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Angie is a superwoman

So imagine that you’re a 1st time mom. You deliver a healthy baby girl on Sunday afternoon and head home from the hospital Tuesday. Things are good. Your friends come over to meet the baby, your mom’s in town…so when your husband asks to take a little break (after doing a great job supporting you in the delivery/hospital) and go play a game of softball you think, no big deal. He’ll be gone a few hours and my mom will probably be more helpful than he would be anyway.

But then you get a call around 10 that night that your husband had an accident during the game and broke his leg. Badly. In two places. And can’t put any weight on it for 6-8 weeks.

How would you handle it? How would you react if you found out you all the sudden had to be a new mom and a nurse? Well tonight Chris & I brought over Chipotle and got to spend the evening with Angie, Bryan and adorable little Presley and find out how Angie has been keeping her family together this past week. And let me tell you I’m amazed.

20120718-222433.jpg

I don’t think I can adequately put into words how amazing this woman is. How strong she is. Take the 1st few nights where she’d take Presley upstairs for the night but bring her downstairs for her feedings so that she could help Bryan off the couch and into the bathroom. Or how about the fact that all day long she has to constantly watch the clock…is it time for Presley to eat? For Bryan to take his meds? And even just being pulled together enough for day to day errands like the grocery store which she said going to made her feel human.

I’m sure we’d all rise to the challenge if faced with something like this but Angie is passing with flying colors. I am so proud of her :) I’m also happy that Chris and I had the chance to help out with dinner and hopefully anything else that arises.

I could haver seriously taken her home with me. Just look at her. Wouldn’t you?

20120719-081216.jpg

20120719-081237.jpg

20120719-081255.jpg

20120719-081312.jpg

I just love her :)

Marathon Days

Phew, my last couple days have been kind of a whirlwind.  Let’s start with Thursday which looked a little like this:

  • 5:30-6:30 AM: Spin Bike Cardio
  • 8-2PM: Work.  With back-to-back meetings
  • 2:15 – 6:15 drive to Seattle.  Now for those of you not familiar with the Pacific NW this drive should not take 4 hours.  3 hours is the average time it takes but we got stuck in horrible traffic.
  • 6:30 – Meet up with my dad at my parents house. Pile in the car with him, Chris and my aunt. Freak out momentarily when their dog escapes and runs down the street.  Have to get to the play so decide to leave him and hope he comes home.
  • 7-7:45 – watch my adorable, beautiful, growing up too fast little sister star as Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty.

  • 7:45 – 8 – head back to my parents house, find the dog, put him back in the house.
  • 8-9:30 – Dinner at Elliot Bay Brewery

  • 10PM – say goodbye to my dad and sister.  Wish I could stay longer but alas work calls.
  • 10-1AM – drive back to Seattle (Chris drove, he’s a saint).
  • 1:30 – 6:30 – Slept
  • Get to work in time for my 8AM meeting.

The trip was crazy fast but I’m so glad I went.  I love my little sister.  Like I don’t even know if words could even describe it.  I grew up with my brother (who I also love) but Payton came along and changed the dynamic of my family.  Not only was she the sister I always wanted but she really helped heal some troubled relationship stuff that had been going on. I’ll always remember the day I got the email from my dad telling me my step-mom was pregnant :)  And because we’re 19 years apart and she lives 3 hours away from me it’s super important for me to still be a part of her life as much as I can and when she got the lead in Sleeping Beauty there was no question that we were going to get up to see it.  No matter what kind of scheduling/commitments we’d have to shift around.

Payton is quite the performer.  Check out her Facebook and YouTube channel if you want more proof.  My sister has talent and this was actually the 1st real life performance I got to see since her talent has become really obvious.  I was shocked at the girl I saw on stage.  My little sister is fading fast and getting replaced with a beautiful, teenager and I can’t wait for all the big things that are going to come up in the future.

And now back to my life…Friday flew by at work and then we went out to celebrate our friend Andy’s birthday.  Andy and Sunny are heading to Amsterdam in a few weeks so this was one of the last times we’ll get to hang out with them until they come back in January.  I’m going to miss them but they are heading off onto a super cool adventure and I know they’re going to have an amazing time.  Plus, word on the street is that I’ll be heading to Amsterdam for work in August so hopefully we’ll get to connect.

And of course, the night wouldn’t be complete without a nightcap at Journey’s.

Today we slept in and enjoyed a lazy morning with breakfast and coffee and then at around noon we met up with some friends and floated the Clackamas river.  I’ve lived here for 8 years and this is the 1st time I’ve ever floated that river.  It was awesome!  Such a perfect day.  The river has a couple little rapids but for the most part is just a couple hours of smooth sailing with great people.  Floating the Clackamas has always been on my Portland bucket list and I’m so glad I can finally cross it off.  Plus now that we know how fun and easy it is to do I’m sure there will be many more trips in our future.

And now we’re home, having Papa Murphy’s for dinner and enjoying a rare night in.

What about you guys?  What’s one thing on your summer bucket list?

Rain is a good thing

That was what I woke up to Saturday morning. In case you can’t figure it out, that’s rain. Pouring down onto our tent. And that’s the same type of rain that greeted us upon our arrival at the campsite and the type of weather we had to deal with when setting up our tent. Not going to lie…there were some early moments when we all looked at each other and seriously considered packing up and heading into Bend to “camp” on a friend’s couch. But we waited it out and thank goodness we did because eventually the rain let up and it ended up being a great weekend.

We camped at Lake Billy Chinook which is in Central Oregon near Madras which is about 2 hours from Portland and 45 minutes from Bend. While we go to Bend all the time (one of our favorite places), we’d never been to this spot. We were able to get out on the pontoon boat Saturday and check out the lake which, minus a little rain at the beginning of the boat ride, was awesome. The rest of the weekend was spent hanging at the campsite around a campfire with great friends. Life just doesn’t get much better :)

When we got home this afternoon I meal-planned out our week and ran to the store for groceries before somehow getting a crazy burst of energy and experimenting in the kitchen (which I’ll tell you about later). After that I made this dinner. So good. And now I’m off to bed. Camping can really wear a girl out :)

Who else out there loves (or hates) camping? I think sometimes I forget that we’re a little spoiled here with so many places to camp in the Northwest. It’s seriously one of my favorite summertime activities.

I love this man

 

Friends in low places

Happy Sunday.  Although can you really call the last day of your weekend and the day before you have to go back to work happy?  I’ve been a complete bum today and really need to do something productive…  A trip to the grocery story and a long walk with the Chance dog are definitely in my future.  I’ve planned out our meals for the week and now I’m just working on the extras – lunch & breakfast type stuff.  I’m struggling with lunches.  I’ve done quinoa salads for the past couple weeks and I think I want to switch it up.  I might go back to some classic PB & J’s with a side of greek yogurt and fruit.  I mean you just can’t beat peanut butter and jelly right?

Here’s what dinners look like this week.  I’ve got a couple new recipes on there so we’ll see how they turn out.

Meal plan for the week:

What about you guys, do you meal plan for the week or do you tend to wing things?  It’s definitely challenging trying to come up with everything but it makes it so much easier to go to the store once and get it out-of-the-way.

And now for the recap that I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with bated breath for right? Drum roll please…the wedding of two awesome people, Jon and Lauren :)  My pictures just don’t do it justice.  I love taking pictures but sometimes when you’re always behind the lens you don’t always get to experience what’s going on in front of it.  So last night my camera spent most of the evening tucked away in my purse while I had a blast.

I can’t even begin to tell you all the great moments of the evening…when Jon’s sister brought everyone to tears as she officiated the ceremony, when the best man reminded us in his speech that “sometimes things that happen in Vegas shouldn’t stay in Vegas,”  when we spent what felt like hours in the photo booth to leave Jon and Lauren images they’ll get to laugh at for years to come, or when all of us, including the bride and groom, were on a circle on the dance floor singing the lyrics to Garth’s Friends in Low Places…I mean, this wedding was awesome.  I danced the night away with basically all of my Portland friends….this is the crew that welcomed me in when I started dating Chris and the crew that has become more or less my extended family.  It truly was the perfect wedding to cap off our “wedding gauntlet” and the perfect way to start off the next chapter in the lives of some very special people.

Strawberry oatmeal + little black dress prep

Tonight is the wedding of two very awesome people and I can’t wait to celebrate. It also concludes what we’ve been referring to as the “wedding gauntlet” (3 weddings in 3 weekends) and I’m going to be really happy when they’re all over.  I’ve absolutely loved celebrating the biggest moment in my friend’s lives but it will also be really nice to get back into a normal routine again.

Speaking of routines, on days where I’ll be wearing a dress I always try to work out the part of my body that’s getting featured.  Typically I wear strap-less dresses to special events.  My upper body and arms are my favorite part of me and I enjoy showing them off.  But today, I’m going a little crazy and my little black dress will be showing off my legs.  I’m actually pretty nervous about my outfit but Chris (and my mom who helped me pick out the dress) gave me approvals.  I think in general I’m just really self-conscious about my legs.  I’m knock-kneed which is annoying plus no matter how hard I try I have never been able to get those awesome quad and hamstring defining lines.  Life problems I tell ya…hahah. To help me feel a little better about them, I’m going to do levels 1 & 2 of Jillian Michael’s Killer Buns & Thighs and then 20 min of intervals on the spin bike.  I have no clue if it makes a difference or not but I feel like working out a specific body part the day you have to show them off makes them look better.  We shall see…

And because I know I’ve got a long wine/beer/champagne drinking night ahead of me, I’m making sure to fill up on healthy, hearty foods.  For breakfast I had a blueberry smoothie (in the car while we dropped one of the bridesmaids off downtown to get her hair done) and some strawberry oatmeal once we got back home.  And then for lunch I’ll be having some black bean, sweet potato and quoinoa salad.

Strawberry oatmeal

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 6-8 chopped strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

Bring water to boil, add oats and turn to low.  Simmer for approx 10-15 minutes.  Add strawberries and simmer for 5-10 more minutes.  The longer you simmer the oats the softer they’ll be.  Mix in honey and coconut oil. Enjoy.

And that, my friends, is all I have for you today.  What fun and exciting things do you have going on?  Does anyone else out there have tips/tricks  or a special routine they follow before a special event?

Makela Gets Married

Phew – busy day around here.  I got up and went for a 3.5 mile run.  It felt so nice to get up and get my workout out of the way.  Then I made our standard smoothie/coffee breakfast.  After that I showered and headed out on some errands – Babies R Us for a baby shower present, Nordstrom Rack to look from some shoes for a wedding I’ll be going to next week ( I was there forever and couldn’t find anything I like.  I think I’m just going to wear my cowboy boots), and then Fred Meyer for groceries.  After that I zipped home, dropped off the groceries and headed to the baby shower.

I got home and whipped up a big batch of black bean & quinoa salad for lunches (more to come on that tomorrow) and then we had a delicious BBQ chicken pizza for dinner. Overall, a great end to a great weekend.  Which included a fantastic wedding last night.  Our friend Todd married his lady Autumn in a beautiful ceremony and a reception at the Crystal Ballroom, which for those of you unfamiliar with Portland is an awesome venue where a lot of bands come to play.  It was so cool dancing around at their reception knowing that the stage I was sitting on at the end of the night was the same one that Eric Church performed on about a year ago. And not only was it a great to be there for Todd and Autumn on their special day but we also got to see our friends Troy and Jennifer who flew in from Amsterdam, along with our friend Dennis (who lives in Bend) and his lady, and of course Craig (Chris’ best friend).  Todd, Troy, Dennis, Craig and Chris all grew up on the Oregon coast so it’s always fun to hear their stories when they all get together.  Great night.

And now I’m off to watch TV with Chris but I’ll leave you with a photo summary of the night.  Hope you all had great weekends.  Did anyone do anything super fun?

 

Do not try this at home

This morning I woke up and wanted protein pancakes which I’ve made many, many times.  Except I make them with cottage cheese and we don’t have any cottage cheese.  So I proceeded to make up a random recipe.  Um yeah, don’t try these.  Unless you like a weird, mushy-filled, good-smelling pancake.

Don’t try at home protein pancakes:
Makes 4-5

  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 cup oats
  • 4 tablespoons almond milk
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour (pretty sure this is the culprit for the grossness.  Every time I use coconut flour whatever I’m making is not good.  You think I would learn my lesson by now right?)
  • 2 tablespoons water

But they just smelled so good so I ate them anyway with peanut butter (courtesy of my foodie penpal),  and honey. Side note – Right now Luke Bryan is on TV singing “Drunk on you” and one of the lines is about a drip of honey.

PS if you want good protein pancake recipes, I’d head over to Peanut Butter Fingers and check out Julie’s recipes.  They look amazing.

I completed my breakfast with a mug of coffee + almond milk and a blueberry smoothie sans protein powder.  I feel good that I no longer have any fake food in there but I’ll warn you that these take some getting use to.  Little sour since it’s non-fat, plain greek yogurt.  I put some honey and cinnamon in there this morning and it was much better than earlier versions.

Blueberry Smoothie:
Makes 2 16 oz glasses

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 cups spinach (today was a mix of spinach and kale)
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup organic non-fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 1 & 1/2 cups non-fat, plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • dash of cinnamon

As it’s currently 10:40 I need to start pulling myself together.  I’m thinking a 3.5 mile run (although my knee is feeling a little iffy) or 45 min on the spin bike.  We have a wedding to go to at 2:30 so I don’t have a whole lot of time to be lazy today.

Last night we grabbed drinks (I only had 1 glass of wine – go me) with some friends who are in town for the wedding from the Netherlands.  It was great to catch up with them and I’m excited we get to spend more time with them tonight.

And before that we had dinner:

Strawberry salad

And chicken penne pasta (minus kale)

Yesterday’s workout was a good one – a pilates reformer class plus 15 min on the elliptical (alternating between leaves 7 and 10) and 15 min on the treadmill at an 8:30 pace…so a little over 1.5 miles.  I’m going to try and get back into more of a 3 day a week pilates routine.  I’d been pretty consistent before my physical therapist told me to quit and in the time I took off I definitely noticed a change in my body.  Pilates really helps to keep my muscles long and lean and since I wasn’t doing that, instead doing more weights, I felt like I was getting a little too bulky.  Especially my arms.  So for the next couple weeks I’m going to try a pure pilates reformer/cardio mix and see what happens.  I’ll keep you posted.

Wow, I feel like I’ve written a novel and I still have one more thing to get though.  I wanted to let you know about this challenge that Powercakes is doing.  For the month of June, she’s challenging you to focus on clean eating, with a new meal/food to try each day.  Yesterday was “eat a rainbow” which actually was harder than I thought.  Today is to eat something red so I’m thinking yogurt and berries will be in my future later.  Let me know if you guys are up for trying it.  I’ll post what I eat on here for ideas but I think it’s a pretty cool concept.

Eat a rainbow

And I’m out. Finally.  Hope you all have good weekends.

 

Wake-up Call

My in-laws and Chris & I are all members of Willakenzie Estates and they held a special tasting event yesterday so all of us, plus a couple of our friends headed out to wine country for a day in the vineyards.  We went to Willakenzie along with Penner Ash and tasted some great wines.

Ladies

My husband & In-laws

When we got home we went to Sasquatch brewery for dinner and then headed to Journeys.

And then I woke up this morning and had a bit of a come to Jesus moment when I had a hard time getting my wedding rings on.  Not a good sign.  I got on the scale and 139 lbs flashed up at me.  139.  Um, I can’t even tell you the last time I weighed that much.  5 years ago maybe?  I’m 5’7 so it’s not like 139 is overweight so don’t think I’m saying that.  I’m just saying that for me, this is quite a bit higher than I’d like.  I usually hover closer to 132-135 with my ideal weight being about 130.  So seeing this number on the scale was a wake-up call.  Some of it obviously was from yesterday – the alcohol, the salt…and I’ll give a pound or two to some extra muscle, but still, that’s a lot higher than it should be.

I talk a lot about balance here on this blog.  I mean, we only have one life and I certainly do my best to enjoy it and for the most part, I do a pretty good job of balancing out the nights at Journeys with a day in the gym.  But lately I’ll admit that things have gotten a bit out of hand, especially with the unexpected nice weather.  Sunny evenings make enjoying a glass of beer/wine (or 2 or 3) a lot easier to justify.  “It’s so nice out, let’s go to Journey’s” or “let’s BBQ and open a bottle of wine.”  And then at least for me, the drinking will lead to snacking.  We’ll come home from wherever and it’s usually been quite a while since we ate dinner so I want something to snack on and end up raiding our kitchen – dried apricots, dark chocolate squares, chips…  Or worse, we’re out at whatever bar (let’s be honest, I’m referring to Journey’s) for a while and I’m watching people all around me eat and then I order a snack at 10pm.  Extra calories and I’m not even hungry.

I’m not posting this because I want sympathy or people to say “oh you look great,” or “the scale isn’t always an accurate measure of your fitness level.”  I’m posting this because way back when, this blog was a place for me to hold myself accountable.  And right now, I need a bit of a wake-up call.   To remind myself that we’re heading into the heart of summertime and I need to pull it together.  1 glass of wine.  1 beer.  No snacks when I’m not hungry.  Appropriate portion sizes.  Hopefully if I put it out here I’ll be better about sticking to it.  And for anyone out there reading, feel free to call out me out if you see pics of us at Journey’s or hear me on Twitter talking about our night out.  Hold me accountable.  Keep me honest.   I’d really appreciate it.

Return of my running buddy + my favorite bottle of wine

As I’m sure you’re aware (because I mention it on here all the time) I love running but my knees suck. And even though I’ve just completed 2 months of physical therapy (my 2nd time in less than two years) I am still crazy enough to think I can run Hood to Coast in August.  And so I’ve slowly been bringing running back into my workout rotation.  I try to only allow myself 1 run a week and keep it at less than 3 miles.  My physical therapist says I can run as long as the pain level is a 3 or less (I’ve definitely been at a level 10).  And so I was super excited when my favorite running buddy asked me to start getting some regular runs back in with her.

Mandee (who writes over at You Say At Best…go check her out) and I met in pilates a few years ago and not only did we share a love of all things core, but we also realized we both love to run and last summer were on a pretty regular routine…usually running about twice a week.  Well then fast forward through HTC and my running hiatus and well, I didn’t do any running with my buddy because I didn’t do any running at all.  But all of that changed yesterday.  Woo hoo!  3.8 miles at a 0 pain level. I can’t even tell you the last time that happened.  I wore my knee brace (mine is like this) to help stabilize my knee cap and that seriously helped.  I need to remember to wear it more.

But besides the fact that my knees didn’t hurt, my run was so good because Mandee was there running with me. We chatted about blogs, races, weekend plans… I know sometimes I’ve heard that if you can keep a conversation while working out you’re not working out hard enough but I disagree.  It’s hard to run and talk.  And I like that challenge.  And chatting makes the time fly by.  I barely even realized how far we’d gone.  So yeah.  Great day.   Great run.  Great running buddy.  Thanks Mandee!  Can’t wait to get more into a routine.

Question for you – does anyone else have running buddies or workout pals?

After my run I hit the gym for a few weights – deadlifts, squats, step-ups, push-ups and some planks (I rotated through 30 sec of front and side holds for a total of 6 minutes).  And when I got home from work Chris and I took Chance on a walk.

And by the time we got home I was dying.  I felt like every part of my body was sore.  Golf, pilates, running…I’d done it all this week and my muscles were making that clear.  So I spent some time with the foam roller in our “gym.”  Which is still not home to our spin bike (which lives in the guest room) because we still have random office supplies and artwork stored in there.  Oh well, it works for now.

By this time it’s around 6 and I’m feeling great.  Good workout, nice stretches… Feeling pretty good about myself.  And then we went to a family dinner with some friends and everything kind of went downhill :)  We had a nice healthy dinner of grilled chicken and veggie kabobs, asparagus and strawberry kiwi salad.  And I started innocently enough with a slice of Cougar Gold cheese.  For those unfamiliar with this cheese it is amazing.  It’s produced at the Washington State University (my alma mater) creamery and I actually hadn’t eaten any since leaving Pullman 8 years ago.  And needless to say I’m pretty sure I ate my weight in cheese.

But the night doesn’t end there.  Besides eating my weight in cheese, I decided to wash that down with nearly an entire bottle of wine.  Whoops.  My favorite wine was on sale (Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc) and that just spells trouble.  I think my friend had one glass but otherwise I downed the whole thing.  Not sure if it’s a good or bad thing that I pretty much felt fine when we left dinner (maybe wine and cheese cancel each other out?) and someone I managed to get myself out of bed this morning and spend 50 minutes on the spin bike.  If I’m going to play I better work right?

What about you guys?  Do you ever have nights where the drinks are just going down a little too good?

I’m hoping I can keep the rest of my weekend eats and drinks pretty healthy.  Chris is off on another bachelor party so I’m not entirely sure of my plans.  It’s suppose to be in the 80’s this weekend so I’m thinking yard work, backyard sunbathing, the dog park, driving range and Journey’s are all in my future.  Hopefully everyone else has good things planned for the next couple days. Oh and if it’s sunny, make sure to wear some sunscreen.