Monday, June 10, 2013

We Bought A House!

It has been a long time since I have had a chance to post on here, and I suppose the nature of my posts will be a bit different for awhile. On April 23rd we moved into our new home on the Kenai Peninsula about a 2-3 hour drive from Anchorage, AK. We weren't originally planning on buying this year. DH was changing jobs and we were looking for a good sized rental. When we couldn't find one I started looking into homes for sale. I never thought we would actually find a place or that we would be able to purchase right away, but low and behold we are now living on our nice chunk of land(4.7 acres) out here just 5 minutes from downtown Soldotna. We have 2 small lakes right behind our house that make for a beautiful view in the evening when the sun is setting. I am in love, and at this moment, can't see myself moving anywhere else. Noah seems pretty happy about it too. He loves playing outside, and likes to help me water the plants. He will be REALLY happy when the guys get the chance to cut the legs off of the playhouse to make it ground level.
My husband built me 2 large 4'x12' garden beds and made a cover for one, and then I dug out a large 5x12' bed for growing cool weather vegetables. We've been working hard to get this place back in order. There was no garden when we moved in so its taken most of our extra time getting things taken care of. I've never grown more than 4 vegetable plants at a time. But this year I've got planted: Zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, snap peas, snow peas, lettuce, spinach, large sunflowers, strawberries, artichoke, acorn squash, butternut squash, Hubbard squash, cauliflower, brocolli, rutabaga, celery, chives, basil, parsley, cabbage, red onions, yellow onions, potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. Uhhh... yeah I went a little crazy! lol.
Now for the pictures! We didn't get internet until today so this has been a long time coming! I don't have many good pictures of the inside yet so that will have to be for another day. In all honesty I really just want the place to be super clean, and when I did get pictures, it was back when there were still boxes everywhere! So, for today, here are some photos of the outside along with some animal friends that have been coming to visit us daily/weekly.

This is how it looked when we first moved in.

And then this guy decided to visit

..and the snow finally melted..

so these guys came out of hiding and started visiting regularly..

Pine Grosbeak..
..and his mate :)

Hubby built these and filled them with dirt for me..

Then I dug this one.. and he took the rototiller to it

One night we had one of the most amazing sunsets along with a gorgeous and big full moon on the opposite side of the sky

Now that the sun has come(along with the mosquitoes) the grass is greening up fast and the trees have finally sprouted their leaves

The fuchsia is finally starting to open its blooms..

Vegetables in the greenhouse cover Seth helped me make.. growing zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, cucumber, and then one little bell pepper plant. We are already picking zucchini.

The BBQ and fire pit hang out. It was a bit pathetic when we moved in, so hubs got some rocks and filled in the holes and made the fire pit deeper.

Cool weather vegetable garden. Everything seems to be growing well.

Sunflowers next to the sauna, oh yeah, we have a sauna! It needs a stove though.. something on our list of things to get before winter hits again!

Forest part of our backyard. We have around 3 acres of wild lingon berries(lowbush cranberries). There will be quite a bit of jam this year and I will probably freeze a lot for using throughout the year. Can we say cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving?

I think Maya is pretty happy to have a huge yard to run around..

The boys are pretty happy too since they get to go 4-wheeling in the rhino anytime they want! 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

More Freezer Recipes

I'm failing at my blogging. I am so bad at keeping up with these things. So I have been trying out some of the freezer foods over this past week. We were not fond of the sesame chicken. That's the only one I can say for sure was a no go. Need to find a new sesame chicken recipe!! The one I used had way too much soy sauce in it and that's all you could taste. There was no flavor in the dish. The Beef Stroganoff got the yumm-o from the big guy but was a big thumbs down for me. I think maybe it would be more of a freeze the meat and have the other ingredients on hand type of dish. The onion flavor was off and very strong after freezer and I just felt like it overwhelmed everything. My absolute favorite of all though, was the cilantro chicken. It froze very well and tasted so good. Plus it was healthy! Odds are, next month, I will make a triple batch of this stuff.

Cilantro Lime Chicken

1 tsp cumin
1 1/2 lbs chicken breast
Juice from 2 limes
1 bunch fresh cilantro(chopped)
2 cups frozen corn
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 red onion(chopped)
1 can black beans

Place all ingredients in a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag. Mix together and zip bag closed. Day before cooking pull out of freezer and thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours.(mine was still mostly frozen when I cooked it, but it still cooked through fine). Cook on LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 4 hours. Serve with tortillas and toppings like salsa, sour cream, guacamole and cheese.

White Chicken Chili

3 15 oz cans Great Northern Beans(drained)
8 oz cooked shredded chicken breast
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped bell pepper
2 chopped jalapeno peppers(optional)
2 minced garlic cloves
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3 1/2 cups chicken broth

Toss all in slow cooker and cook on Low for 8-10 hours or High for 4-6 hours.
This freezes fine before cooking but is better cooked fresh then placed in freezer containers and frozen.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Freezable Breakfast Burritos

Another happy recipe! These turned out great! And the best part? Super simple, I only got 1 dish dirty AND made 20 breakfast burritos for the freezer.

So here we go, a simple recipe. Not much to say about it other than its good and to the point. Easy to make but tasty! I personally decided to use locally made whole wheat tortillas.

For you other Alaskans, you can find them at Costco in 3 packs of 10.

They are so yummy, but healthier that the regular ones, and as a plus you will be supporting a local business! Next time I make these I will be doing 1 1/2 times the recipe so that I can actually use up all 30 tortillas.

2 lbs sausage(I use jimmy dean..the kind in the tube wrap)
1 dozen eggs
1/2-1 cup milk(whats your preference?)
1/2-1 tsp salt(to taste)
1/2-1 tsp pepper(to taste)
4 cups cheddar cheese(or whatever cheese you prefer)
20 8-10 inch tortillas

In a big nonstick pan over medium heat cook your sausage. Make sure and get it nice and crumbled. While sausage is cooking scramble your eggs together with the milk, adding salt and pepper to taste. I just did about 6 hard shakes of each and it turned out perfect.

Once sausage is finished cooking pour in the egg. Scramble away! Once that is all nice and cooked to your liking turn off the heat and stir in the cheese. Make sure everything is nice and evenly combined.

Warm tortillas up slightly if needed(to make them more pliable).

Add about 1/2 cup of scrambled mixture to each burrito, wrap up as tight as possible in the tortilla. Wrap each burrito individually in plastic wrap and then a layer of foil. Put wrapped burritos in a few big ziplock bags. I needed 3 gallon sized. I put 2 bags in the outside chest freezer, and left one bag in our kitchen freezer for easy access.

To reheat preheat oven to 350F and baked for 20-25 minutes.

I would give microwave instructions but we do not actually own a microwave so I would have any idea how long they would need to cook. I'd say unwrap the burrito then wrap in a paper towel and put it in for 1 or 2 minutes? That's the best I can do for you! Enjoy your easy breakfast! :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Beef Barley Soup-Freezer Challenge Day One

I am going to split this challenge up. Even though I am prepping and freezing all of the meals in a couple of days, I decided it would better serve my readers to separate things out to make it all easier. Plus... better that I actually try the meal and say whether or not it was successful before posting the recipe and instructions! It only makes sense. Today I start out with Beef Barley Soup!

So I'll admit. I didn't actually freeze this one... BUT, it should most definitely be a freezer friendly meal! I will be freezing the leftovers though. I was planning on making it for dinner and didn't see the point in prepping it and sticking it in the freezer first. If you want this to fit into a 6 quart slow cooker, I recommend halving the recipe. The full recipe did not fit in mine, and I ended up having to leave the potatoes out. Boy am I wishing that I owned a large stock pot!! Though I got a sewing machine for Christmas this year that is almost identical to the one a friend gave me in the Fall... so when I take it back, maybe I will finally purchase a stock pot. While I'm at it I will probably buy some more supplies for soap making too, since I have been wanting to try it out. more being distracted.. On to the soup! It was delicious, and I mean... oh so good. It is rare that I am able to make any stew type soup good. Most of the time I fail. I cannot for the life of me figure it out but I've never been good at making stew! It might have something to do with the fact that I use to use moose meat(and I do not have enough experience with it). But we are out of moose(except for maybe 1 small piece of roast laying in the bottom of the freezer) so I used beef this time. Maybe next year, after hubby has a chance to do some hunting, I will post some moose recipes. Broccoli Beef for one is AMAZING when you use moose meat.(not that it's not amazing otherwise!)

The blog that this recipe originates from mentions eating the soup with butter spread onto saltine crackers. I used to think my husband was crazy for doing that exact thing. Why add butter where you don't absolutely need it? But they are all right. Nothing tops this soup off like those wonderful salty crackers with butter on top.
This could not have come at a better time. I have had a bad cold for the past week, and our son is also sick, so soup is just what we needed!

I used stew meat instead of the rump roast so that I wouldn't have to shred it later. If you do the same it should take a few hours less time to cook. Also... don't add extra barley without adding lots of extra liquid. Hubs loves lots of barley in his beef vegetable soup so I added extra and it turned out not quite as soupy as I would have liked. He doesn't seem to ever have any complaints though, lol. I am the one who is considered the critic in this household.

  • 3 lb bottom round rump roast
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • Wyler’s beef bullion cubes
  • stalks of celery thinly sliced
  • 1 lb bag of baby carrots thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 15oz can of corn drained
  • 14oz cans of cut green beans drained
  • 29oz cans of Hunt’s Petite Diced tomatoes do not drain
  • 6-8 medium red potatoes peeled and diced
  • 1 cup pearled barley    

  • Directions
  • In a slow cooker on high, add beef, water, bullion cubes, diced carrots, onion and celery.

Cover and cook on high for 5 hours.
Add tomatoes with juices, corn, green beans, potatoes, and barley, plus extra water if needed. Cook for another 4-5 hours on high.
Using a fork, shred the beef into the soup and stir.

To freeze: In one bag add beef, water, beef bullion, diced carrots, onion, and celery. (write #1 on bag)
In second bag add tomatoes, corn, green beans, and potatoes. (write #2 on bag)
Leave out seasoning and pearled barley.
Place both bags in one large ziplock. Write on bag: Cook bag #1 plus 3 T seasoning salt on high 5 hours. Add bag #2 plus 1 cup barley(plus 1 cup water it needed). Cook for another 4-5 hours on high.

Freeze leftovers for future meals.

Original recipe from
BTW her's looks WAY better than mine turned out... but that's probably because she took care in how she took her picture and probably didn't add the extra barley that soaked up all the water, lol.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Meal Planning/Freezer Meals

          I've set myself a challenge that will be difficult to face. We spend about $200 more per month on grocery's than we should.... maybe more like $300 some months. It doesn't help that now I am making a little extra cash for myself (babysitting my niece) so I can spend the extra bucks on all the yummy fresh produce and whatever other goodies we enjoy but wouldn't normally buy. But if I'm honest, I really should be saving that money for things that are more important(like a possible future little brother or sister for Noah).
           In an effort to offer some relief to our wallets I am using 12 different freezer meal recipes. I will be prepping everything this week, taking pictures, walking you through it. Some recipes were found on other blogs, and some through Pinterest. Since it is my first month doing anything even remotely like this, I ask that you bear with me! I am also hoping to make some bread and muffin batches and plan to no longer buy any bread products at the grocery store. I will share those recipes as well along with pictures to show how they came out. Some of these recipes would be fairly simple to just put together in the morning and throw in the crock pot(because they use canned goods along with the meat) but I thought what could be easier than freezing it all together and writing instructions on the bag, then when the morning comes I can pull it straight from the freezer(or thaw in the fridge over night) and plop into the slow cooker without having to prepare anything at all? So with all this said, I present you with my list of things to make for the month... if things go smoothly I will have all of the freezer meals done in one day, make the biscuit dough the next and bake the other goods the next. I also purchased a bread maker today for $50. Not bad eh? Hopefully it works well. Most reviews raved about it so I am crossing my fingers. If not, Amazon has a great return policy.

Baked Goods:

2 loaves of oat/whole wheat bread(bread maker)
1 loaf cinnamon swirl bread(bread maker)
6 batches freezable biscuit dough
1 batch chocolate muffins
2 batches baked oatmeal cups(for the kids)
1-2 batches oatmeal breakfast cookies

Freezable Meals:

Mock Wendy's Chili(crock pot)(will use left overs for Frito chili pie and chili dogs)
Cilantro Lime Chicken w/corn(crock pot)
BBQ Chicken(crock pot)
Chicken Pot Pie(bake...recipe makes 3 to freeze)
Vegetable Beef Soup(2 batches)(crock pot)
Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo(crock pot)
White Chicken Chili(crock pot)(freeze leftovers in 1-2 serving portions)
Beef Enchiladas(Baked)
Twice Baked Potatoes(baked)
Sesame Chicken (2 batches:crock pot)
Beef Stroganoff (2 batches:crock pot)
Chicken Tortilla Soup

I hopefully will get the chance to go shopping tonight or tomorrow and will post once I have finished putting together all my freezer meals :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Been awhile

If you have ever followed one of my blogs in the past, you have probably noted my irregularity in posting. Life gets crazy and I just forget. (especially when it hits around the holidays). Our end to 2012 was a relief for me. If was not a great year. Despite absolutely loving life in AK it was a difficult year. Our apartment is not large enough for the amount of things we have accumulated over the years(we used to live in a 3 bedroom with large garage and now live in a 2 bedroom no garage) so we have to store half of it at DH's parents house in their garage. We cannot park our truck in the spot by the plug in under the carport because every time we do someone tries to break into it in the middle of the night. I will not risk having to pay to replace a window. In short, we are ready to move again. In the spring we will be looking for a place that has a garage and will have at least 3 bedrooms. We are hoping to have another little boy or girl on the way soon and want to be prepared. I am also planning on starting a new business soon, making lotion bars, chapstick and hopefully eventually soap among other products. I don't have a shop name or website picked out and I'm not sure when I will. With a location move coming up in April I will probably wait until after when we are settled in a new place. Even then I may wait until August since we tend to get pretty busy on our adventures in the summer. We will see. :)  Here are some pictures from the last few months for now. I will hopefully start remembering to post in here more often!!

These Redpoll Finches have been hanging out in a flock of about 20-30 birds. They always show up around the same time everyday and I've been enjoying watching them fight and squabble over the sunflower seeds!