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merry christmas

wishing you all a merry christmas from our family to yours.

front of our 2012 christmas cards.

inside top.

inside bottom.

summer 2012 square foot garden

click here to remember our spring 2012 garden.  i love how with each year, each season our little square foot garden grows and grows.  we learn so much each year, what works and maybe more importantly what doesn’t.  for example, squash. we can’t grow it.  it hasn’t worked. ever. in three years.  tomatoes on the other hand, we can grow more than we could possibly consume or can.

this year we were surprised.  completely surprise to see a watermelon growing.  i mean, yes, we did plan a watermelon seed. but we have never had success.  this year, wow. two are growing strong with a couple more on their way.

we also have some peppers to spice up our meals. jalapenos still on the vine and some ready to eat banana peppers.

just looking around. there are lots of varieties of flowers to help keep the insects away. along with plenty of rosemary, mint, and basil.  oh how we love basil.

earlier this year i made my first ever homemade basil pesto. i have used several jars already. it was quick and easy and i don’t see myself buying store bought again.  if you are interested in the recipe check out my earlier post here.

another way we are eating our garden product is in lots of omelets and quiches.  here is my recipe for a swiss chard frittata that was simple and delicious.

milo bojangles is officially an inside cat now, after most of his life being free to roam.  overall i think he has transitioned well.  but occasionally, he just sits and cries at the door.  it is so pitiful.  during our little garden photo shoot we brought him outside.  you would think he would run, but he is just chill. he walked around the garden.  ate grass and rolled in the dirt.

after enjoying the sun we all headed back inside.  a lovely saturday morning spent in the garden. simply blissful.


summertime in a jar.

i mentioned earlier that this will forever be known as the summer of the watermelon.  i literally can eat an entire watermelon in a couple days.  oh, just a personal size watermelon, that isn’t so much. no, no my friends. a large, break my back, watermelon.  i just can’t get enough.a dear friend of mine moved to arizona and unloaded TONS of canning jars.  every time i walk out into the garage they are just looking at me.  just waiting for something yummy and sweet to go inside.  then inspiration struck.  watermelon jam.i have never tried it.  i have never even heard of it.  but after a quick google search i found that it most definitely could be done.  it just might be a little tricky.  the common problem, the jams were not setting.    in the canning world, this is no bueno. i nervously got started.

here is what you need:

8 cups pureed watermelon
3 cups white sugar
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 packet powdered pectin

whisk together sugar and powdered pectin until they are fully integrated. combine watermelon puree, sugar/pectin and lemon juice in a large, non-reactive pot.

bring to a boil and let cook until the temperature of the jelly reaches 220 degrees. this can take a good bit of time.  because watermelon has such a high water content, you have to cook a lot of it down.  because of all the people struggling with the jam setting, i boiled the hell out of it for almost an hour. the i used a couple tricks to check to see if the jam would set.  my favorite set test is using the saucer test that i learned from the ball book for canning.  basically place a small plate in the freezer for a few minute, then spoon a small bit of the jam onto the super cold plate.  the jam should set pretty quickly.  if it doesn’t then keep boiling and try again a few minutes later.

remove from the heat and pour into prepared jars. wipe rims, apply lids and screw on bands. process in a boiling water canner for 10 – 20 minutes.

when time is up, remove from canner and let jars cool. when they’re cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. you can eat immediately or store unopened jars in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

this made 8 – 8oz. jars, 3 – 4oz. jars, and 1 random jar that i think is 14 ounces.

this may be the prettiest color jam i have ever made.  i can’t get enough of the vibrant pink color.

the husband is pushing for me to open up a canning etsy shop.  what do you think?  i think i would need lots of taste testers and apparently they are not hard to find :)

last day in paradise

our last full day in jamaica was spent trying to soak up every single thing we knew we would miss.  by this point our staff were our friends and we all were pretty emotional.  for breakfast, themogene made gluten free pancakes along with our favorite omelet combination.  i don’t know what it was exactly but it was spicy and filled with lots of veggies.  it was delicious.

we went snorkeling.  i rocked it.  apparently i have a hidden talent, the ability to snorkel.  it was a whole new world under the water and was completely mesmerizing.  i would like to point out there is a video of the husband first attempting to walk in flippers and go under water.  i DIE laughing every time i watch it.  he has threatened divorce if i post it.  so i did not.  but just know it exists.  and if you are ever visiting i will be happy to show you ;)

shaki and neville surprised us with a picnic lunch down in the gazebo.  our favorite place to be.  gluten free fried chicken, garden salad, and gluten free banana muffins.  fried chicken is a big deal in jamaica and on our first day shaki had mentioned this.  i told him it had been five years since i had eaten fried chicken because of my food allergy.  voila! he worked with my flours all week to surprise me with this.  i felt so incredibly special.

a very happy celiac girl.

can anyone spot my kayak loving husband? center, top of the page.

our drink of the day was our favorite for the week, mango.  no shocker there.  they grow their own mangos in jamaica and they were delicious.

our chef, shaki.  his laugh was infectious and the husband and i loved just hanging out after dinner chatting away with him.

our new family in jamaica, starting with neville who is standing beside me, then thermogene and shaki on the end.  it was such an incredible trip from start to finish.  i can not think of a better reward for all of our hard work.

i am so truly blessed.  two weeks home now when i start getting upset or stressed i turn on my jamaica pandora radio station and it calms me.  it reminds me of the entire days of doing nothing but loving every moment with my husband.