Friday, May 29, 2009

Jam + Spareribs = Delicious!

Spareribs were on sale at the grocery store. When I got home I found that I had everything for a nice BBQ dinner (plus Lindsey's extra-fabulous Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream). Everything but chili sauce to make a BBQ sauce for the ribs that is.

Searching through various recipe sites, I found several rib sauces that called for different fruit jams. My mom uses apricot jam but I don't have any of that either. You may remember that last year I made a large quantity of plum jam. I still have a good amount on hand (although our weekly Saturday Crepe Breakfasts are rapidly depleting the supply.) It seemed like a good base for a sauce. I didn't have everything on hand to copy any one recipe exactly, so this is what I came up with.

Plum Crazy Spareribs...
1 small jar plum jam
1/4 cup ketchup (use chili sauce if you have it)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. hot pepper sauce (Frank's Hot Sauce or Chilula work for me)
3 lbs country-style pork spareribs

In a small saucepan, combine jam, ketchup, vinegar and hot sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes. Arrange ribs in one layer in a shallow baking dish. Reserve 1/4 of the sauce for dipping. Pour sauce over meat and make sure each piece is coated. Cover and put in the fridge for several hours.

Heat BBQ and place ribs on rack. Cook at medium heat Brush occasionally with the sauce that's left in the pan. Leave on the grill until done through (165 degrees if you have a digital probe thermometer).

Let rest for 5-10 minutes. Forget to take a picture. Serve with remaining sauce and BBQ side of your choice (corn bread, coleslaw, baked beans, twice-baked potatoes... mmmmm)

Review: I couldn't really taste the hot sauce so I might add a little more next time. The vinegar worked out really well and the meat was very tender. The plum taste was noticeable but not overpowering or weird. The sauce was sweet, tangy and the perfect compliment to the pork ribs. We had grilled pineapple and French bread on the side but I think I might like some cheesy potatoes. Yum. I do love summer.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Whew, our garden is finally done! As you can see, I didn't get as carried away with the peppers as I did with the tomatoes. We might have enough tomatoes to supply our entire neighborhood, but ultimately I want to experiment with what varieties grow best and are our favorites.

My only regret is that I wanted a little more real estate for green beans. Last year my family ate fresh green beans several times a week and we all loved them. But we never had enough left over to try and bottle some. I'll have to see if I can sneak in another few rows somewhere.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vacation giveaway

Head on over to Vanilla Joy to see the latest and most fantastic giveaway she is offering. I don't know how she gets all these amazing things. Enter and I hope you win! Or don't enter and hope I win!!!

While you're there, check out her styling new blog header that I designed. Yipee! This is one of my favorites (I say that about every new design though.) Hope you had a great holiday weekend!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Purple is the new black

Or maybe purple and black is the new blond? Either way, I've got it covered...

Wow, that does look black in the picture. Never fear, it's more of a 'darker-brown-than-we-expected'. Not being much of a fashion risk-taker, I basically let my Oh So Fashionable sister-in-law do whatever she likes to my hair.

Minnie's hair is now pink AND purple!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pretty lilacs

I picked these from our yard to sit in the middle of the kitchen table. Our lilacs are called Sensation and they're so much more interesting than the regular pale-purple ones. They were so beautiful I had to take a picture. The only thing I don't love about flowers is that they die. Why can't these stay beautiful longer?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Auto-focus is a wonderful thing

Because I didn't have contacts in when I took these. Whew! Bart and Lisa agreed to have their pictures taken and we had some lovely cloudy/sunshine light outside. I was so happy with how these quick photos turned out that I had to post them.

It's not a trick of the light, she really does have pink streaks in her hair. Thanks Aunt Jackie!

He gave me almost every face he knows... except a good smile. Good personality pictures, right?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Strawberries - free to a good home

My strawberries are going crazy and trying to take over the garden. They are all in bloom and full of happy little honey bees. I keep having to dig up stray plants all over the place and it makes me feel bad to kill them.

If you live near me and want strawberry starts please come and get some. They seem to be an ever-bearing variety - we got berries almost the entire summer. I'd be glad to re-home a few out to you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Last year I read about recycling tires as planter boxes. After snitching a truckbed full of tires from a local tire store (every place I've been to says to help yourself) and rolling them down our hill, I put the tomatoes in their new homes and hoped for the best. Here's what I learned from last year:

Pros: Once you get the tires home and into your garden space, you don't have to mess with getting more each year. They're really durable and you'll have them forever.

You can tell that the area inside the rubber walls is warm and cozy - perfect for your little tomato starts!

You can put mulch, gravel or Preen all around the tires and not have to worry about weeding that area.

The slightly elevated planter lets the soil drain better.

Cons: Not as pretty to look at as other gardens (I don't care but it might bother some people)

If you want to rotate your planting areas or rototill under the tires, it's kind of a pain. It's worth it though.

They take up more room than the trendy new square-foot gardens.

Changes I'll make this year: I won't fill up the tires with as much dirt, leaving more of the young plant inside the rubber walls.

The tomatoes climbed up the larger cages better and seemed to produce more tomatoes. I might have to invest in more big cages.

Because I want to bottle tomatoes for the winter, I'm also putting in more plants than last year.

It turns out that I can't be trusted at the nursery. When I thought 'more plants' I wasn't really envisioning the rows and rows of lovely varieties of tomatoes. I could not choose! It also doesn't help that some of them came in 4-packs instead of singles. So... even after spending only $23, we might have ended up with a few more tomatoes than I originally planned.

I have another 2 rows of beans to put in, as well as some carrots, cucumbers, pumpkins and a watermelon for the kids. But that will have to wait until tomorrow. I decided not to plant my peppers for another 2 weeks. It's supposed to be cold for a few days and last year my peppers sulked and moped until June when it was good and hot.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Running - week 1

Hey, one week of the Couch to 5K program is over! That's the good news. The bad news is that the EASIEST week is over.

Did anyone else take the Cto5K challenge? How are you doing?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Photoshop Friday - Color alteration

Digital scrapbooking is a fun way to preserve your pictures and journaling. As a bonus, it can be faster and easier than traditional paper-and-scissors scrapbooking. There are also lots of free or inexpensive digital elements that you can add do your pages. While you have the versatility of moving, re-sizing and rotating your elements all over your page, sometimes you are stuck working with colors that doesn't quite go together.

Or are you?

Today we'll go over how to alter the color of your digital embellishments. This method, while easy, may require some experimenting and you still might not come up with exactly the color you are looking for. But with a little practice you'll get pretty close and get a lot more mileage out of those digital elements.

We're starting with this lovely stapled pink ribbon. Download it here if you want to practice. It's called Sweet Sprinkles created by ShabbyPrincess and you can look at all their stuff at if you like it. I like these elements that come as .png (pronounced 'ping') because the background is transparent (that's what the gray boxes mean). If you saved it as a .jpg, you would have a white box around your ribbon and that's a pain.

This method changes the color of the entire layer and I want that staple to stay gray. So first, I'm going to isolate it this way. Select your lasso tool (shown below) and make sure you are using the 'polygonal lasso'. That means that every time you click, it will make a line from one point to the next, making some sort of polygon when you're done. Obviously this would be harder with a more intricate shape. You'll get better at it with practice. And if you get excited and select the wrong thing, Crtl/Cmmd D will de-select your area so you can start over.

Once your staple is selected, simply copy (Crtl/Cmmd C) and paste (Crtl/Cmmd V) the selection. It will create a new layer. Remember that the layers are listed in order. The staple must be on top of the ribbon in the Layers Palette if you want it to show up on top in the image.

Turn off the lower layer (click the eyeball on the bottom layer) so you can see if you copied it right and you don't have any pink ribbon attached to it. If it's messed up, drag your staple layer into the little trash can (lower right of the Layers Palette) and start over.

Moving on. Turn your pink ribbon layer back on and make sure you're clicked into that layer so you can work on it. Go to Image -> Adjustments -> Hue/Saturation. Just start moving the Hue slider back and forth. You can lighten or deepen the color by moving the Saturation or Lightness bars. Also try clicking on the "Colorize" checkbox on the lower right and see what happens with those settings. When you've discovered the color that you want to use, just click OK.

Now you need to make your still-gray staple a part of the image again. Click Layers -> Flatten Image to make it all one piece again.

Surprisingly easy yes? Add your fancy new ribbons to the project of your choice. Leave comments if you have questions.

Love jewelry-making?

It seems like the not-post days are outnumbering the post days lately, but I think things are settling down. And one major project is finally crossed off my list - the Bead Trends blog that we set up at work. For some reason I really struggled with the design for this one, but finally settled on something that I really liked.

So if you're into jewelry and beading, catch me over there once a week. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Discovering Mason jars

While at my sister's house over the weekend, we discovered that she has cases and cases of Mason jars stored in her crawl space. The bad news is that they were still full of jelly and peaches and didn't have a date on them. We opened a test bottle, it didn't smell too gross, and proceeded to wash 24 pints of jelly down the drain so we could wash out the bottles for future use.

The experiment went pretty well until we found an incorrectly-sealed jar of... something. It had developed a mold colony so large that the entire jar probably had a cognitive thought process. After much screaming, Karin deposited this one straight into the trash. She might want to watch and see if it escapes and is roaming the neighborhood...

That small hangup aside, I'm so excited about our garden and all the delicious things that we will bottle this summer. I can't wait!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


It's almost time to get our garden going and I'm so excited! Last year our garden was excellent and we had lots of yummy things to eat all summer. I was so sad when it was winter because I felt like we ate less healthy fruits and veggies. And our grocery bill went up! So this year I have plans to expand our garden so we can bottle up even more goodness to use over the winter.

We're going to do more tomatoes, more green beans and more sweet peppers. I'm doing LESS hot peppers and no spinach. We had just enough cucumbers and watermelons but I'm going to let the kids grow pumpkins (if there is room) so they can have them for Halloween. And I'm going to let the raspberry patch get bigger if it will, because you can never have enough berries.

One thing I struggled with last year was the hot peppers. They were so mild! If anyone has any gardening tips, feel free to leave them here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Getting into some sort of shape (other than round)

For some reason winter killed me this year. I had no desire to do anything but snuggle on the couch and watch HGTV. It may have had something to do with the fact that either me or one of the kids was sick 98% of the entire winter. Needless to say, months of hibernating has done nothing for my personal fitness level.

Fortunately the sunshine has inspired me to get off my backside and start jogging again. Joe has been running for months because he is competing in the Wasatch Back at the end of June. This sounds a little extreme for me but you can bet that we'll be cheering for him along the way!

Anyway, back to my slacker self. Here goes. Today is Day 1 of Couch to 5K '09. Feel free to cheer me on. I'm sure I'll need it. And if you want to do the program with me, I've set up a handy printable calendar that you can download here. Let me know how you're doing!

Friday, May 1, 2009

FREE jewelry and a giveaway!

Visit Sherbetblossom's blog and get a coupon for a FREE strand of freshwater pearls, plus a chance to win a $50 gift certificate for MORE jewelry. Rad huh?