Friday, December 9, 2011

Merry Kari- Soule Salsa!

Yesterday I made salsa. It may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but in all of my 30 years on this earth I've never cooked with tomatoes, so yesterday was an interesting day. The recipe came from Amanda Soule's newest book, The Rhythm of Family. If you haven't caught her blog, here is a link. It's one of my favorite blogs to read.

I first had the idea to make salsa because my husband loves it. It's his go-to snack/meal as long as we have some in the house, so it seemed like a no-brianer to make some for him. I just made it yesterday, so he'll try it today and let me know if it's good enough to give away for Christmas gifts. I hope it is, because I already promised my brother I'd send him a jar...

I jarred it the same was I do jam. I even added pectin at the last minute because the store-bought salsa we have in the house listed it as an ingredient. And this way if it's not good enough to give away, we'll be able to save it for chili and use it up over the next several months.

If you decide to make salsa, my suggestion to you is this: wait for a good sale on tomatoes. My local Sprouts had Roma tomatoes on sale for $0.69/lb so that's when I got my tomatoes for the salsa.

Here's hoping you do well with your salsa if you're planning on making any!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Merry Kari- Bread Bags

My sister is a domestic goddess. No, seriously. So what do you get a domestic goddess for Christmas? You make her a bread bag!

I had the pleasure of staying with my sister for 6 weeks last year when my husband was deployed. We arrived before Thanksgiving and left after the New Year. It was so nice to spend that time with her and her family, especially since I'm only able to see her and her family at the most, once a year.

During my time with her, I got to experience her amazing bread making abilities she learned from the Tassajara Bread Book, a book I looked at but read as if it was a textbook written in a language I didn't know. (I'm not a read and learn girl if you haven't already guessed)

The one thing that I noticed was that Christine didn't have a bread bag. She used her old cereal bags, which worked out well but I decided I would be making her a bread bag for Christmas. Since she gives my mom bread often enough, I made them each a bread bag with similar embroidery.

~Linnen (bought at good 'ol Jo Ann's for a reasonable price)- I used 1/4 yard for each bag
~Thread to match the linnen
~embroidery thread
~embroidering hoop
~Ribbon or string for the draw-string

:: I made the draw-string portion first, ironing the fold and then sewing. Then I sewed the bags sides and voila!
:: I then drew a bird on a pice of lined paper (or you can print an image) and went over it with permanent marker to make it stand out.
:: Then I used pencil to 'trace' the image onto the bag.
:: I used the thread (2 strands) to embroider the image onto the bag.
:: I have yet to get a ribbon for the draw string, but here are images of the finished bags. My mom's has a mama bird with a baby bird (she's the full time guardian of my 5 year old niece) and my sister's has a mama bird with three baby birds (she has three children). I think it came out great, and can't wait for them to see it!

Yes, after months of sitting folded, they are creased. Don't worry, I'll iron them before I send them!

Merry Kari- Jam

*sigh* Yes, I do apologize for such a long absence... I just got busy with life, and the crafts I was doing I didn't feel I could blog about because they were Christmas presents. But I decided to tell my family members to avoid my blog for the rest of the season, because I want to BLOG! And blogging [right now] means making presents for those I love. I'm going to title the blogs that are about Christmas presents Merry Kari. There are a few reasons for titling them as such: You'll have a way of seeing all my Christmas crafts (in case you would like to make some of them for the loved ones on your list) and my family members who need to avoid these until after the holiday can do so easily.

Todays blog talks about jam. I blogged about the first time I made jam here. It was so rewarding to have a cupboard full of jam that I made. And even back then [in September] I knew that I wanted to make jam for gifts. On Saturday I made blackberry/raspberry jam and today I made another batch of Strawberry jam. I followed the recipes in the Certo pectin package for both, but anyone who knows me knows that I'm no good at following instructions to a T, so I guessed on my quantities of fruit. I'm pretty sure it was about four cups for each batch, but who knows and who cares, it tastes wonderful. I plan on making at least one more batch of blackberry jam (seems someone wasn't listening when her husband said he'd prefer plain old blackberry jam as opposed to blackberry/raspberry jam).

Some suggestions to you, the novice jam maker: don't buy jars!!! I've been pretty good about saving jars for the last several months since I made that first batch of jam because, let's face it, jam is not only a wonderful way to feel accomplished as a mother, wife, and woman, but it's also a way to try to provide your family and others with something nice while still keeping a budget. If you save all your jars and use those instead of buying jars, you will not only save that money on the jars, but each jar will be a different size, shape and the lids will be different colors. My favorite jars are from Trader Joes, they are bruchetta jars: square with a black lid. Very much in keeping with my idea of a homemade gift from the heart. I also have short squat jars from artichokes which are adorable with jam inside. If you're worried about the writing on the lid, grab some wrapping paper or scrapbooking supplies and embellish it to reflect your style or the style of the person getting it. I ran out of jars for this last batch so bought a flat from Walmart from their Better Home and Gardens jam making section. I bought the smallest ones I could get in a large quantity: pint. Turns out they are gigantic for jam (They would be perfect for salsa though) and I filled up four jars with one batch of jam. Not a good thing if you're trying to give them as gifts.

Another tip: Buy your Certo pectin first to review before you buy your fruit. If you're anything like me you'll decide on a whim while you're out and about one day that you'll make jam for the first time ever. Then you'll have to guess how much fruit you'll need because the recipes are inside the Certo package and you'll get home, start mashing and realize you're short about 1/3 of the fruit. So if you do end up wanting to only make one trip, overbuy! Use the extra fruit (if you end up having any) for your family.

So there you have it, one of my 2011 Christmas presents is jam. Don't tell my family!

Strawberry jam setting

My stockpile of jam in my pantry. I will make labels for them from my scrapbooking supplies.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Indian Summer

I'm not sure if it counts as an Indian Summer if we don't get a frost... But it is quite warm compared to the sweater wearing weather last week. We went from two sets of jammies to swimming in my/our new favorite spot (a cove on base that's the perfect size and depth for my little three year old and 17 month old).

Bring it on. I love the warm weather and even though I had to rewind my thought process back to summer days, it's been a great week of finding ways to stay cool and happy.

I hope your days are filled with warmth, whether it's the weather or your heat in your house. Happy Thursday, everyone.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Halloween Napkins

Sometimes I get an itch. An itch to make something I haven't made before and I can't stop thinking about it until I make it. Other times I have something in the partially finished pile waiting for months if not longer to be completed. Today I couldn't sit still until we had Halloween napkins to go with our Halloween table cloth.

Last year when I made my sister's place mats, the thought of making napkins was a little intimidatoing to me but for some odd reason I felt very comfortable making the napkins today.

I knew that they were going to be smaller than our normal napkins, but I didn't mind. I had some fabric I bought last year to make another banner, but decided that we were in need of festive napkins more so than a banner.

So here they are, in all their glory. I cut the fabric 12"X12" and then sewed right sides together, turned inside out and finished with a simple stitch around the border. So simple I think I may make more one of these days...

For those of you curious- the napkin in the corner is for Mr. Man who still sits in his high chair between mama and dada. And yes, we use the back portion of the table for storage of cupcakes [that dada and Genny made when mama was working this past week] and a covered apple-raspberry pie I made a few days ago.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Made Jam!

Oh the possibilities of the title of this post: I Be Jammin'... Jamtastic.... We Be Jammin'.... The ideas came to me in such overwhelming quantities, I decided to simplify it and just state the obvious.

So my question to you is this: What do you do when you and your kids have the flu and Dada's away sailing for the weekend? Well I made jam. The idea was just to go to the library and read about making jam, but as it turned out, the library doesn't open until 1pm on Sundays... And with a grocery store in the next lot, it was decided that I would wing it. Especially since I was on the phone with my mom and she said that everything I need is in the box of preservatives. So I made jam!

Nope. These kids are not enjoying my strawberry jam. Probably because I made it while they were eating lunch and it was too hot to taste. But today we had Sunflower seed butter and home made strawberry jam sandwiches for lunch. Mister Man loved it, and Genny had to be bribed [with chips] into taking bites. She even asked at one point, "Mama, can I have strawberries?" to which I replied, "Sweetheart, there are strawberries in your sandwich!!"

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fever, Fever, Go Away...

We are all sick here in the house. Well, except Dada. Which works out well because he is attending an Advanced Sailing class all this weekend.

Poor Genny had a 105.1 fever just after lunch today and Glenn's highest was 104 last night. It's very uncommon for Genny to take a nap, but it's no surprise that today she's sleeping on the floor in the living room.

On a different note, I've finally started working on her baby clothes quilt! I've chosen a chinese coin quilt pattern which was [of course] brought to my attention by Soulemama when she blogged about Harper's quilt. I'm very excited to start sewing, but need to have all the squares cut before I can decide how I want to lay out the squares. I will be sure to keep you all [all three of you...!] updated as it comes together!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Washing the Cars

There were several reasons we decided to wash our cars tonight after dinner, pushing the kids’ bedtimes back to a late 7:30pm:
1. Genny took a nap today. (Genny hasn’t taken naps for almost two years now, so on the odd day that she does snooze, we have to push her bedtime back to compensate)
2. It was 90.1 degrees while we were eating dinner. Pretty toasty.
3. The kids were cooped up inside all day (we had Spinal Defects Clinic down in San Diego which means we sit in an exam room for about four hours while various doctors make their way to us, going over the plan for Genny for the next year)
So after a post-dinner popsicle, we got out the bucket, soap, rags and threw the kids in swim suits.

Let’s just say I have great memories of washing cars with my dad and siblings but could never pinpoint any specific part. Today I did what every parent loves to do: I relived my childhood through my kids.

The pups got left over rib bones to chew on.

Genny mostly sit/lay in the water table.

Glenn was in his element washing cars! He loved pulling his rag our of the bucket, taking it over to the car and washing.

And a big shout out to hubby Thomas who did the majority of the washing! But that's what happens when mama need to get the camera to document such occasions, then also needs to tend to the babes and pups.

Broken Blender

My blender is broken. It's been broken for over a year now. All it needs is a new carafe, but the cost of shipping is the same as the cost of the carafe, so I've been putting it off.
But that leaves me without a blender. What does one do when she doesn't have a blender?

She uses the Baby Cook baby food blender that her sister gave her to make baby food. Yup. That's what she does.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Help From Some Little Helpers

Today I did something amazing. I finished my sister's conversion from velcro to snap! I'm writing this as if it deserves applause, because, well, it does. Not that converting velcro to snaps is hard, it's pretty easy once you do a few dozen. The reason this statement deserves applause is because I've had my sister's diapers for, oh, I'd say about a month now. Yup.

Now, to excuse my lack of speediness in returning her diapers, I must admit that I felt I was given an undetermined period of time to do them in. I had all intensions to finish them weeks ago, but when talking to her on the phone about it, she said that she really wasn't missing them and that I could take as long as I needed. So when I would get a custom sewing order (which is happening several times a week now) I would put her diapers on the back burner. On the nights I didn't have any sewing I needed to do, I would say to myself, "Well she said she didn't need them right away..."

But this morning as I was about to move Sully (my snap press) back into my bedroom where he lives, I realized I only had two diapers left of hers to do. And they only needed the front panel snaps put on. So with the help of my little ones, I finished her diapers. Wfew! Now I can send her that package which includes a very nice wet/dry bag in the oh-so-soft organic cotton. You can see an example of it here. I won't be taking any Sister of The Year awards, but I feel much better about having accomplished that task and checking it off my oh-so-long to do list.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Frosting and Pretzels

I had left over frosting. I had pretzels. It was wonderful.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Solute to Amanda Blake Soule

Today (an lots of other days that I don't write about) I give my solute to Amanda Blake Soule. If you are unfamiliar, she is the author of, a blog which she started years ago and has turned into not just a good read, but a culture, a guideline for our lives. She lives in a big old farmhouse in Maine where she keeps away from mainstream ideals such as store-bought clothes and processed foods. My favorite thing about her is her crafts. She has published three books, all including her thoughts on life as well as easy ways to live green and fun crafts for the whole family. And a family she has! Her 5th child was welcomed into the world this past May, and who knows if she's done yet! My guess is that she will let her body tell her when she's done having children.

My solute is mostly due to my belated birthday present from my sister, SouleMama's new book (mailed to me by Mrs. Soule herself!) as well as a hand written note from the author telling me Happy Birthday.

So today I wear my hair parted down the middle, and will sew and bake and cook, thinking of SouleMama and her family who, even though they are so far away, are still close by with the click of my mouse.

Thank you for your inspiration Amanda, and keep your blogs [and books!] coming!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Wet Bags 411

If you've read my blog before you've probably read reference to wet bags (or moist bags). These things are wonderful. They essentially replace plastic ziplock baggies which makes Kari The Hippy happy. As soon as I realized I could make them, it was on. I've been perfecting my technique for a while now, and am sorry to say that I sent some of my earlier versions to my family for the sole reason that I'd rather they be using ugly wet bags than plastic ziplock bags that would be thrown away.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I've been a little busy trying to make gabs and get them up on is a website that people like me (a SAHM) who have no resources can make things and sell to the public.

Now, the pros to using a wet bag!!

Environmental- Use wet bags instead of plastic baggies for snacks, sandwiches, fruit, veggies, etc. With so many sizes out there, you can use a wet bag for everything!

Ease- Since they are reusable, you don't have to worry about buying plastic baggies. You always have them available! Just throw them in the wash with almost any load (probably not whites with bleach!).

[almost] Childproof- since they are fabric (and the one's I've been making have a ribbon loop to attach to a 5 point harness) they can take a beating (and will stay in arms reach of your child if you attach it to the car seat, stroller, etc.)

Style- There are so many to choose from, you can match your child's theme, or your personal taste. You can have a camo print one for your son and a cupcake print one for your daughter. You can buy plain manly ones for your husband to take to work, and pretty girly ones for your lunch.

Uses- As stated above, you can use them for any food item since the PUL fabric lining will keep that moisture inside. You can buy small ones for food and large ones for baithing suits, dirty diapers or the ocational accident that happens when you're out and you have a 4 year old who doesn't realize he has to go potty.

Interested in checking some out? This is my shop on

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Kid Ventures in Pismo Beach

Wow. Wow wow wow. WOW. I loveKid Ventures in Pismo Beach. I found it online, and decided that we as a family should go today. It was a little more expensive than I prefer- I'm used to Playwerx where we pay $10 total for entrance. This place was $20 total, but as a whole day, would be totally worth it. I didn't find out until we were close to leaving that they close early on Saturdays and Sundays for afternoon birthday parties. But I had made the lunches, and packed everything else, so we decided that three hours should be enough for the kids.

This place has it all. A grocery store. A diner. A fire engine. A pirate ship. A giant castle with two slides and a play area underneath. A disco room. A nursery complete with babies and doll-size high chairs, cribs, etc. An art room. A library. Each section I just mentioned has child-size accommodations which allow the kids to pretend they work at a diner, grocery shop, etc. Complete with costumes, props and cameras in every room which are fed into a big flat screen TV in the Parent's Cafe which is in the center of it all. Provided your children will play without your presence (Genny won't but Glenn will) you could sit and have a coffee or smoothie, or any of the yummy selections off the menu while your child plays happily- all the while keeping an eye on them via the cameras aforementioned. Each 'room' has a giant window cut out of the inside wall so that parents can see in if they need to, but it still gives the feel of a room all itself which I think enhances the imaginative play inside.

The only down side besides the price? The location. It took us 45 minutes to get there, so it's a bit of a drive. I'm not too worried about it, we have plenty of selections up here (not like this though!) but when I find myself going to San Diego for an appointment for Genny, I think we may end up at Kid Ventures after.

Legoland Sea Life Aquarium

Yes, I've been absent for a while now... I apologize to anyone who was reading me regularly, I didn't do it on purpose, life just got in the way of blogging. I've been concentrating on my wet bags and trying to sell those, so all of my free time is devoted to them. It's 8:44pm on Saturday night and I have been itching to blog about two adventures we have been on this past week, so here's the first one: Legoland Sea Life Aquarium

At the kids' birthday party one of our neighbors gave me two adult admission tickets to the Aquarium. I kept forgetting about them and realize two days before they expired that the expiration was coming up. I invited my good friend to go with me, and we just had to pay for our two older children (although she surprised me by paying for Genny).

The Sea Life Aquarium was pretty cool. It was almost like a maze of tanks in different forms. Some you could pop your head into (a 'bubble' built into the tank so you could be 'inside' without getting wet), and others were almost like a bubble itself, looking like it may burst if you touched it. There were [of course] Lego statues throughout and at the halfway point there was a large Lego castle for you to add to or take apart. They had starfish to touch, as well as pencil urchins. The experience reminded me of Okinawa and some of the dives I had been on. It was very nice to remember those since it's been so long.

The kids had fun, but it was hard to keep track of all of them. It was oddly busy on a Thursday morning, but my friend was the best because she kept an eye on all the kids instead of just hers, which helped out a few times. We ended the trip with lunch outside at the restaurant, we brought our own but hid in the corner so as not to be asked to purchase something or leave. As is custom for any museum-type trip, I bought a book, a funny one about a minnow which has giant eyes that are weighted so always look at you as you turn the book.

I didn't get many pictures because silly me brought my double wide stroller which was about the most annoying thing you can imagine. Between the stroller and the kids, I was a little busy. Sorry, this will have to do...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mexican Quinoa???

Ok. I'm frugal. I don't like buying Mexican rice when I can buy plain rice for half the price. Plus I don't like all the additives that come with the bagged or boxed Mexican rice. My friend Jasmin makes the best Mexican rice. My request to her when I was pregnant was her rice. I've always wanted to learn how she makes it, but never got around to asking her. Since I've been experimenting with my cooking lately, I decided to look it up and get the basic concept of it, then do my own thing.

I looked at the time (4:30) then I looked at my rice in my cupboard, thinking about how long it will take to cook rice after I mess with it trying to make it Mexican. Then I spot the Quinoa and an idea strikes me: Why not make Mexican Quinoa? I tried. I failed. It just tasted like regular Quinoa, I didn't even taste any of the spices I added. Next time I'll step it up by doubling the ingredients so you can actually taste them.

I started with a purple onion, minced. Then I added one clove of garlic pressed. I realized that I should have put oil in first, so I then I added evoo.

I added a frozen cube of tomato sauce, then realized that I should have melted it first. Total, I added about 3oz of tomato sauce.

Much better melted than frozen!

Then I added oregano and the water and finished cooking it as directed.