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Messy cabinet

How can anyone find anything in here?

You can’t! Not without taking everything out, at least. This was driving me crazy. It was driving everyone else crazy, too. So I decided to actually do something about it.

Organized Spices

Nick put all of this together for me, and I couldn’t be happier!

Under Cabinet LightShelf Bracket

Dual Layers

This is so much better!!

He glued boards together, and gave them a light stain. Then he just mounted everything to the wall using brackets that we picked out.

The two different shelves mean I can actually see behind the first row. I only have to move one or two jars to find what I’m looking for now, instead of all of them.

I actually mounted the LED light under the cabinet (which is why you can see my marks all over the place. I was trying to eyeball the placement, and it didn’t work). It makes a really nice night light. And in the evenings when it’s a little darker in the kitchen, I can read all the labels.

This has actually sparked all kinds of other organization ideas, but I need more planning time before I attempt any of them.

In the mean time, I love being able to find everything!

Summer rain!

Summer rain!

Collin's Lily

I’m going to inhale deeply today. Rain is pretty amazing.

Please tell me you do this too.
It’s like that little slot on the handle of my cast iron skillet was made for holding my wooden utensils.

Utensil holder

Oh! And I also flatten the ground beef before I freeze it.
You wouldn’t believe how fast it defrosts this way!

Ground Beef

I just wanted to check in and see if I was the only weirdo doing this.

Holy smokes!

Hello!

I still exist, and I’m happy that you do too. We had an action-packed, relaxing, invigorating, magical summer. Hence the silence on my part.

Umm, apparently June 4th was the last time I visited here, but I swear it was only two weeks ago.

For real, June 4th?

Don’t worry, I’m not sorry at all. I soaked up every ray of sun, every giggle, every trampoline flip and fish caught. (Well, I ate the fish rather than absorbed them.) I just couldn’t remove myself from life enough to post about it, and I think that’s pretty awesome.

Now that fall is settling in and the mornings are chilly, I feel like we’ve slowed down a bit.

Want to look at my summer?

Emmett Cake

Collin turns 9!

The boy turned 9!

I got my hair cut. (You’re so excited, I can tell)

I caught my first real fish! (I caught a fish once when I was 16, but it was teeny and we didn’t keep it.)

Driving!

Father and Son

Sunset Fishing

We drove boats. And played in boats. And fished from boats. And tried to ski behind boats.

Boats. Lots of boats. Can you tell that I’m obsessed with boats? I would totally live in a boat.

We went zip-lining.

All of the cousins were together for the first time ever.

My first rodeo. For real

I went to my first rodeo! Can you explain to me how I’ve been in Montana for my whole life and never once been to a rodeo?!?

My first real beer

And you guys! I drink beer now! This is a thing! I can’t even tell you how happy this makes my husband. You know him? He’s the homebrewer that I talk about all the time. Don’t worry, beer drinking was completely my decision. And in case you’re wondering  whether or not I was replaced by a pod-person, I don’t think there’s any chance I’ll ever, ever, drink an IPA. Ick!

IMG_0046

Daisy

Clouds

Eagle

Loons!

Inspecting the lines

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So as you can see, I was busy.

How was your summer?

Frozen Whipped Cream Sandwiches

You all know that I hate the cold.

I would take 97F over -25F EVERY. TIME.

And spending two hours shoveling my driveway, while a great workout, is not my idea of time well-spent.

But I have to say, getting a four-day weekend is pretty spectacular.

Guys. We got snow days!! Not one, but two!!

If you’re from Montana, this is basically unheard of. It could snow an entire foot over night and we’d still have to go to school.

Last week though, we got Friday off because it snowed a foot over night and then we had 50mph wind. I had to pretend I was hearing ocean sounds in order to sleep. It actually worked really well. There still weren’t enough streets cleared by Monday to safely open the schools, which meant that we got to stay home again.

So my mind naturally came up with this frozen treat. If you’re all bundled up and you don’t have to brave the cold, why not?

All you have to do is make some whipped cream
Frozen Whipped Cream Sandwiches
We make whipped cream by adding heavy whipping cream and maple syrup into a mixing bowl. Beat until fluffy and add maple syrup in small amounts until it tastes right.

Get some graham crackers
Frozen Whipped Cream Sandwiches

Spread on some peanut butter
Frozen Whipped Cream Sandwiches

Then the whipped cream
Frozen Whipped Cream Sandwiches

Sprinkle on some chocolate chips. Drizzle on as much caramel as you can.
Frozen Whipped Cream Sandwiches
More caramel! Caramel recipe can be found here.

Top them off and freeze them for a couple of hours.
Frozen Whipped Cream Sandwiches

Frozen Whipped Cream Sandwiches

These sandwiches don’t get rock hard like you’d expect. Even after they’ve been in the freezer overnight! They were shockingly easy to break in half and bite through. The whipped cream retains its fluffy texture, and frozen caramel might be the best thing in the world. As my husband says, “These things will change your life.”

If I would have known I could celebrate the cold with treats, I would’ve had a completely different outlook on winter.

How I Roll
My son was laughing the other day, and I didn’t know why.

Until I looked up from my camera and he was looking at me.

You gotta do what you gotta do!

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How on earth has another year passed already?

You know what is the biggest difference between last year and this year?
Reading his own birthday card!

My child, my amazing child, is READING HIS OWN BIRTHDAY CARDS!!

Obviously that’s not the only difference this last year has made, but I’d say that’s a pretty exciting difference. Wouldn’t you?

Other changes include:
Hailey
A gorgeous niece added to the family.

photo.JPG
A newly developed sense of…ahem…style*.

*Who am I kidding, I wish I was half as stylish as this kid!

And about 4 inches of vertical growth! I think I may have to keep up this feeding him thing…

By the way, I really need to thank Alton Brown for the most amazing Angel Food Cake recipe ever. The birthday boy was especially pleased.

A few notes about the recipe:

1. I didn’t have cake flour, so I made my own by measuring a cup of all purpose flour, and then taking two tablespoons out. I then added two tablespoons of cornstarch and mixed well.
2. I didn’t really wait for the egg whites to reach room temperature. I forgot. But it was just fine!
3. I used vanilla extract because that’s what I had. But it was just fine!
4. I used my new oven. This has no bearing on the recipe, per se, I’m just really excited about it still.
5. I served this cake with home made whipped cream, sliced strawberries, and homemade caramel sauce. Yeah mama!

Then I don’t know what is.
New Oven!

I know I haven’t posted anything in awhile. And while I’m kind of sorry about that, I also really enjoyed the downtime.

I took some time to take photos just for fun. And because I wasn’t trying to get any kind of photo in particular, it helped me improve my skills a little.
Hellooooooo F stop!
Dandelions
Exhibit A

My Bubble
Exhibit B

And to be quite honest with you, I was feeling a bit uninspired in the kitchen. I know, right? Kind of lame for a food blogger to stop having fun in the kitchen.

I don’t want to post fluff just so I can say I posted something. I write when I’m inspired. Or when I’ve had a success.

Or an epic failure.

And there were so many other things happening in my life–all for the good!–that what we were eating for dinner just kind of went on the back burner. (Kitchen pun! It’s ok, I know I’m hilarious.)

But let’s get back to that gorgeous photo at the top.

Dude, we got a new oven!

New Oven!
It bakes! (And doesn’t take 40 minutes to preheat)

New Oven!
It cooks! (Well, I guess technically I cook, but that’s beside the point)

I’m in love.

Between the new oven and my dreamboat, I’m kind of in heaven. And! I’m ready to get back in the kitchen.

Watch out world!

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you My KitchenAid Stand Mixer:
Homemade Raviolis
(The folks at KitchenAid have no idea I exist, and I’m not getting paid or perked in any way. I’m just seriously in love with my mixer, and my amazing husband who gave it to me. This is a total gush post.)

Remember last Christmas when I yelled at family? This year was stunned silence. Speechless awe.

Yeah, Nick gets me. He knows what’s what.

And this mixer is what, let me tell you!

‘Cause it has attachments, you see.
Homemade Raviolis
Like pasta rollers.

And my talented husband knows how to work that roller.

Sure, the filling tasted amazing. And balsamic brown butter sauce is epic. But paper thin pasta rolled to perfection just can’t be beaten. Or competed with, really.

And making cookies with this mixer? No sweat.

Literally! I don’t have to mix the chocolate chips in by hand anymore!

You know how some people choose a certain car or shoe designer to fall head over heels for?

For me, it’s this mixer. And I anticipate we’ll spend many happy years together.

Now it just needs a name…

Pork Roast
You put away the decorations. Take down the lights.

Pork Roast
Pack up the tree shaped cookie cutters,

Pork Roast
and tuck away the red sprinkles.

Pork Roast
It’s kind of sad.
More than kind of.

Pork Roast
Just taking down all the Christmas lights leaves me feeling a bit dim.

Pork Roast
It’s important to find something warm and comforting to look forward to.

Pork Roast
Something to make your spirits bright, even as you stack the last of the storage boxes in the garage.

Pork Roast
Knowing that dinner’s waiting in the crock pot when you get home is pretty darn comforting.

I know, I know. “Pork roast? Come on, Jo; two weeks ago I was gorging myself on honey glazed ham and pierogies.
Roast is so…not festive.”

I hear ya! I do. But I think what I need now is comfort food. And the added luxury of not having to come up with a full dinner menu is so nice. It makes the transition out of the holiday mindset just a little easier.

So. Merry…happy…Thursday.

Pork Roast in the Crockpot
Serves 4 with leftovers

I have to admit, I did not use a recipe or write down what I was throwing into the crockpot, so this is an estimation to the best of my memory. Feel free to add or subtract whatever spices you prefer.

2 pound pork shoulder (or other cut of meat suitable for roast)
1 quart beef or vegetable stock (enough to cover the meat in the crockpot)
1 medium onion, sliced into big chunks
1 or 2 large turnips, sliced into half-rounds
6-8 red potatoes, cut into evenly sized chunks
1 bay leaf
1-2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
Rosemary, basil, salt, pepper, oregeno and thyme to taste

Pour the stock into your crockpot and add all the seasonings. Stir gently to combine. (If you like a thicker, more gravy-like sauce at the end, add 2-3 tbsp of cornstarch to the stock with the rest of the seasonings.)
Cut the pork in half, or smaller, to ensure that it’s covered almost completely in the stock. Then add the vegetables on top of the roast.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-6 hours. You just need to make sure the internal temperature of the pork reaches 160F.

Welcome to the Kitchen

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