Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September Vacation(pic heavy)

A couple of weeks ago we had about 9 days of vacation time and drove out to DH's parents house. They have this gorgeous property that sits right on the Kenai river. These are old pictures from last year, but it looks almost the same now.

Here is their house:

guest bedroom

ceiling fans over living area

Main fireplace:


back of house from outside

front of house from outside

green house!!! I think this is what I am the most jealous of! haha!

Shop still being finished

wrap around back porch

bathroom sink- how cool is this?!

living room

Seriously, how gorgeous is this house!? I will admit I am jealous. If only if only... but who knows maybe someday we will have a place so nice.. I can dream right? These pictures are from last summer before they moved in, just to explain why it is unfurnished and such.

So we spent most of the week relaxing, going 4-wheeling in the rhino and berry picking! They have this perfect spot behind their house where it is literally covered in high bush cranberries, lingonberries (lowbush cranberries) and wild rose hips. I was in heaven! I think I made around 4 batches of jam and then dried about 2 lbs of rosehips(which resulted in about 13 oz once dried) for one of my best friends from Washington(love ya Meggan!). 

Here's all the berries we picked... I had help from my friend/cousin Kayla and my sister in law Amanda. I think they thought I was crazy for how excited I got over it all, haha.

Making the jam. This one is the high bush cranberry jam, which I wasn't personally fond of, but other's seems to like it! I didn't manage to "pop" all of the cranberries before cooking them so there are random super tart whole cranberries. It was also too seedy for me.

I also made lingonberry jam. It is AMAZING. I mean seriously. My new favorite! And it was so easy to make and since lingonberries are high in pectin I didn't need to add anything to make it gel! Here is the recipe I used.. you can use regular cranberries from the store. Its the perfect time of year! :)

My nephew Ford's first birthday party was on the first full day we were out there. Here are some pictures of that too :) 

Mr. Fordy!

The kids enjoying "driving" fords birthday present!

Noah and his favorite fruit :)

Ford driving his race car

Noah and hubby

Ford vs. ribbon haha

Random, but I love this sign. haha.

Later that day we went on a little 4-wheeling drive around the area. There are a TON of trails going through the woods there. Also Luke ran into a bear when driving ahead of us on the trail and managed to drive through its pee... it's not a pleasant smell.

Some Rhino pictures:

Amanda got the rhino stuck, so Seth pulled her out

For got a poppy diaper on the trail.. lol. Baby butt!!

We had a quite a few rhino rides that week and they were all fun! We also saw a mama bear with her two cubs run across the street right in front of us. One day we went to Homer too. I will post that one either later tonight or tomorrow. I feel I've put enough pictures on one post and I have a lot of Homer photos so it can be a post all alone. I hope you enjoyed a little look into our lives! :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Blueberry Jam Recipe

Okay, okay. I know I'm a day late on this right? Well I wanted to wait until I finished making my jam. Plus Seth ended up coming home from work early yesterday so I didn't have time to get online to post and upload pictures. :)

On Friday my friend Kayla came over to hang out. I might as well call her my cousin here. So I will! She is Seth's cousins girlfriend and they have their son Orion. Who is adorable if I do say so myself! :) So Kayla came over and we all went on a walk. It was a long walk, and we went further than we really meant to. On our way back though, we happened upon a mamma and baby moose and almost had to find a long detour home! Though luckily after about a half hour they moved far enough off the trail that we could pass them. It is nerve wracking having these moose in such close proximity to humans. Especially the moms.
Saturday, we woke up and got ready to go back to the Alaska Fair. I only have one picture. That somebody else took. I brought my camera but for some reason(probably the rain) I just never managed to pull it out of my bag. We mostly just viewed the animals, did some shopping. I bought more honey for making my jam. I decided it would be nice to make blueberry honey jam using the local raw fireweed honey. I found a pair of sweats that I am now kicking myself for not buying. But they have a website, so I guess I will order them later :) Seth went to the lumberjack show while me and Kayla walked around shopping. Here is the picture I mentioned. It's Seth and Noah enjoying the show.


On Sunday we woke up a little later than planned and took awhile to get going. We didn't make it to the trail that leads to the berries until about 1 or 2 I think. It took a couple of hours to get to the blueberry field. Was completely exhausting, but totally worth it! Oh and next year... I'm buying hiking boots! lol. I was in rubber boots and so was Seth, and they were not comfortable to climb in at all! Poor Seth had to carry Noah the whole time in his pack. I would have taken over but my slight asthma wasn't being too nice to me. I really should get an inhaler for times like this. Once we got to the berries we started picking and picking. It seemed there was no way we could get through them all, and we were starting to wish we had left earlier because there were still lots of berries crawling over the hillside when we left. Next year I think we will be much more prepared, and leave earlier in the morning so that we have the entire day to pick. We started heading back to the truck later and got there just about 30 minutes before it got dark. Good timing! It was a good day. And successful!! With Seth's help(though most of the time him and Noah were just eating the berries they picked) we managed to get 5-6 cups of berries for jam.

Orion exhausted from a long day picking berries! Kayla had to carry him asleep almost the whole way back.

If anyone can tell me what these berries are let me know. I thought maybe huckleberries... but wasn't sure if they actually grow in this area.. They were everywhere when we were climbing the first big hunk of the hill.


Yesterday I spent a few hours picking through the blueberries and washing them, and today I finally had a chance to make the jam! It turned out so tasty! I mean... delicious! I love jam. I've made a few batches in the past but none of them even compare. And it is rare for me to say I like any jam better than homemade raspberry jam(my usual favorite from farm grown raspberries in the Puyallup, WA valley). It's just tart and sweet and delicious. I'm still not positive that it is setting right since it is on the counter and I am still waiting for it to cool. But I had some extras(not enough to fill a whole jar) and went ahead and tried it on some toast. Oh so good.

Alright so, I've decided to share my recipe with you. I sort of just made it up on the spot, so like I said I am not positive that it set as well as I would have liked but it is still thick enough to spread on toast, biscuits and other goodies! I just threw everything into the pot at once and slowly brought it to a boil. Then let it boil for a minute or so. Google canning directions if you need to. You definitely need to use wild blueberries for this recipe. They are more tart and smaller than the farmed berries, and so make for a more flavorful jam. Here's the recipe! And some pictures of the making :)

Wild Blueberry and Honey Jam

3 1/2 cups prepared berries(I put half of the berries in a food processor and left half of them whole, mashing them with a big fork just a little bit)
2 cups sugar
1 cup local raw honey
2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup mashed banana(for me this was 1 1/2 small bananas)

Don't worry about pectin. That is why the banana is added to the recipe. Also don't worry about it tasting like banana, I swear other than maybe running into a small piece here and there you shouldn't be able to taste any banana at all.