Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Happy Day

Okay sorry for the delay in blog posts, goodness gracious life has been kind of crazy.  But guess what!  I aced my Family Finance exam and passed my Stats test (lol).  I'm pretty sure that packing myself with processed sugar (fruit snacks are my friend) helps me remember everything, right? But now that I have up climbed that steep hill of tests I am feeling pretty dang good.  Today I am thankful for:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

DIY: A Lovely Fall Leaf Garland

Last Sunday, my family went on a little walk through the lovely fall leaves.  It was amazing to see the different color of every tree, they were all so unique and beautiful.  Lets just say I had quite a large handful of these pretty things after we finished.

I was so excited to make this wonderful fall decoration with the treasures that I had collected. This lovely leaf garland is easy as one, two, three:

Step One: Spray leaves with clear acrylic spray (found in any craft store) and press in a large, heavy book until flat and crisp (overnight to a couple of days).

Step Two: Using invisible sewing thread (or thin fishing line), tie stems of leaves onto a long strand on string. 

Step Three: Hang and enjoy!

So easy and so cute!  Now go ahead and take a lovely walk in the colorful fall leaves and then whip out one of these beauties to make your home a little more lovely too. 


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Spice Bread

This Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Spice Bread is to die for! Is it too much to say that this may be the BEST recipe on this blog? Well, that's debatable I suppose, but this one is definitely on of the top recipes in my mind!

A couple days ago mom came home from Trader Joe's with cases of pumpkin, no not cans, CASES! Like 36 cans of pumpkin! After the shortage of pumpkin she freaked out and decided to go a little crazy ;) but it won't last for long because of this wonderful recipe! We make this cake at least every week in the fall (and through out the winter too), it is just SOOOOO good!

I can just smell the spice, feel the crisp breeze, and hear the crunchy leaves.  Oh what a wonderful season fall is. And what is fall without pumpkin bread?! This recipe has been a family favorite for years, I promise it won't disappoint!

3 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
2 full teaspoons molasses
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 cups flour
2 cups semisweet or milk chocolate chips

1) In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, beat together sugar, eggs, pumpkin, oil, water and molasses.  
2) Sift and add dry ingredients until incorporated (do not over mix). Stir in chocolate chips. 
3) Pour into two greased and floured bread pans, or one bundt pan. 
4) Bake at 325ยบ Fahrenheit for 50-60 minutes for bread pans and about 15 minutes longer for cake pan. Check bread with a toothpick often and add more time if still gooey (we almost always add more time). Enjoy!

Friday, September 11, 2015

My Biking Journey- More Than Just A Ride

I have always loved biking, ever since I was a little girl.  But after the age of about 12, I no longer biked very often. Finally after a long haul of shin splints from running, my biking journey began. During my junior year of high school, I decided that  I would go on bike rides more often.  After years of pushing my limits and realizing what to do in every situation, you could say I have learned quite a lot from biking. But not just in biking, these things pertain to almost any situation in life:

Go For It
After months and months of trying to get up enough courage to ride down the last hill of my favorite trail, I felt a little annoyed at myself.  Like, "Sure Gretta, it's a scary steep hill with rocks all around, but will you die?" I realized that I didn't want to die without riding down that hill. Well, I stopped at the top of that hill, turned on the most sassy pop song I had on my phone (Kesha anyone?) and rode down that blasted thing.  I have to admit, I almost started crying because I was so happy that I did it. I proved to myself that I can do a lot more than I expected! And now I ride down that hill every time. So next time you can't decide if you should ride down that hill (or go talk to that super cute boy) start singing a pump up song, and remember that even though you may feel scared, you can do anything you put your mind too (hah, cue in inspirational music).

Be Strong-Someday It Will Be Your Warm Up
On my first real bike ride, I only made it half way up Squaw Peak.  I remember thinking "how long is this road?!" Now that I look back on that day, I laugh at myself like "what a sissy, you literally made it like 4 miles."  After lots of rides, my legs (and bum) got used to using my bike. Now when I see that tree I turned around at, I realize that I am only getting started.  Sometimes in life we feel like the things that are hard are not worth going through. But after get over that hill, we realize that it made us strong, and prepared us for the things of the future.  We must learn that becoming strong will help us in the future.

Laugh It Off
In June, I was cruising down a tight little trail and BOOM ran into a huge rock and then a tree.  After a few seconds of realizing I was on the ground, I burst into laughter.  A tree branch had caught on my shorts and ripped a lovely hole in the worst place.  I looked around for a few seconds and smiled and stood up on my feet. Although I was a little sore the next day, I was not hurt and felt pretty proud of myself for testing my limits on a more challenging trail.  Remember that saying- "when life brings you down, get right back up". Well remember that when life bring you down, laugh while you are getting up.  There is nothing better than laughing at your mistakes and accepting who you are, a human being who is working on becoming better. Walk through life proud of the things you have learned from your mistakes and show off the battle wounds (or ripped pants) that have shaped who you are now.

Enjoy YOUR Journey
I am that person that rides down squaw peak with one hand on the handle and one flying in the wind, leading my music to my imaginary orchestra and making the weirdest motions. I can almost always be found screaming my music at the top of my lungs and feeling so happy because, yes I just biked all the way up here, and no I don't care if I sound like a dying seagull, this is my favorite part of the day, so back off! And although you may not be as crazy as me, you should still enjoy your journey.  I don't care if you jam out to Disney songs in your room after a hard day at school (guilty- this may be happening right now-kissssss the girl), or eat a spoonful of ice cream right out of the tub because your car is still not working right (also guilty). Your days should be filled with joy and happiness.  At the end of the day there should be something you look back at and say "that was really fun" or "that was really crazy of me but it sure did make me laugh."  "Life is to be enjoyed not just endured"-Gordon B. Hinckley

Don't forget that, even if you don't go on long bike rides, you should always push yourself to be strong and do the hard things that you have always wanted to do. Start working on your goals today. And although sometimes it is hard, realize that your are becoming something awesome.  Something stronger, happier and more YOU and you have ever been before.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Gretta's Green Smoothie

At the beginning of this summer, I decided that I would try and make a green smoothie. After searching through tons of recipes ("no I do not have an exotic Peruvian orange, I just want something I can make right now without going to the store!"). I decided that I had read enough about smoothies, and just went for it. 

Here's a classy picture of me in the morning with messy hair and no make up. Cause let's be honest, I ALWAYS look like this when I am drinking this smoothie, and there is NO shame ;)

After making a lot of these smoothies, I have learned the ins and outs of what to use. This recipe is widely adaptable and can be made with the common things that you have in your kitchen (always a plus). And it uses healthy ingredients and tastes really good. A green smoothie that is actually good? YES.  I am not the crazy person that doesn't have taste buds, I promise! This recipe is easy, and pretty dang hard to mess up. 

1 1/2 cup Orange Juice (or water or any other juice)
8 Ice Cubes (approx. use more if you want it thicker)
1 Apple 
1 Banana
1 huge handful of Spinach
Optional: Another serving of fruit (I love using a couple pieces of pineapple or half an orange)

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. 

Extra Notes:
-This recipe make two or three servings, cut in half if you don't want extra (I love to have the rest as a snack later in the day). 
-Don't have orange juice? Just make sure that you have about 1 1/2 cups of liquid.  Any juice or water will work.   
-Use any fruit you want! I have made it with peaches, pears and berries (warning: berries do turn your smoothie brown, but it is still good). 

I updated the pictures on this post in January of 2017, but here is one of the original pictures, (9/9/2015) just because I thought I would have a good laugh in a couple of years (lol look at that shirt)!

Green smoothies are an easy (and yummy) way to incorporate extra fruits and vegetables into your diet. There is nothing better than having a good, healthy smoothie to start you day.  So go ahead and pull out your blender, I think I see a bright green future ahead of you! 


P.S. Do you have tips and tricks to your green smoothies? I'd love to hear about them! Comment below.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Jane's Peach Pie

Last night, my family ate two of these peach pies in mere seconds.  TWO.  Let me remind you that there are only seven people in my family. This recipe should be hid where no one can find it.  But instead, I am posting it here so that everyone in the world will be as fat as me during peach season hehehe.

This recipe came from my mother and aunt's coworker, Jane, way back when I was eating fresh peaches all year long in heaven. Although not everyone in my family knows Jane, we definitely know of her peach pie, it is something we look forward to every year.

9-inch pie crust, baked and cooled
7-8 peaches, peeled and sliced (1 cup will be cooked)
2/3 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 heaping Tablespoons of corn starch or tapioca
*We use 2 heaping Tablespoons Corn Starch and 1 heaping Tablespoon Tapioca*
3 oz cream cheese, room temperature (this is about 1/3 a block)
2 Tablespoons milk
Fresh Whipped Cream (optional)

1) In a saucepan, simmer 1 cup peaches and water for 3 minutes.
2) Add sugar, corn starch and/or tapioca. Boil for 1-3 minute, stirring consistently, until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool (meanwhile cut the rest of the peaches).
4) Mix together cream cheese and milk in a small bowl. On a cooled pie crust, spread cream cheese mixture on bottom of crust.
5) Fill prepared pie shell with fresh cut peaches and then pour cooked peach mixture on top, don't stir together (the order should go crust, cream cheese mixture, fresh peaches, and cooked peaches mixture).
6) Chill for 2-3 hours (to help it set). Serve with fresh whipped cream. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Canning Peaches

Peaches are by far my favorite fruit. In my mind, there is nothing better in the world than a juicy, sweet peach.  And with this recipe, you can have peaches all year long! These peaches were a childhood staple. We would have peaches and cottage cheese in our blue plastic bowls before bedtime, (sounds weird but it is sooooo good, I dare you to try it).  So take a step into my childhood and get ready for a quick and easy canning recipe. I promise these peaches are better than anything you've ever had from the store.

Canned Peaches

In a large sauce pan, dissolve sugar into water to make syrup.  Use 2 cups of water to 1 cup of sugar until you have enough syrup to fill your jars (we usually end up making more along the way, so don't stress too much about this).  Heat water until the sugar is melted. 

In a clogged sink, pour boiling water over peaches to scald them.  Stir for a couple minutes until skins become easy to peel.  Using a long spoon (so that you don't burn your hands), unclogged the sink.  Run cold water over peaches to cool them off. 

Fill clean canning jars (any size) with syrup until about 1/3 of the way full.  Doing this helps the peaches from going brown, and so they don't bruise when you drop them in the jar.  

Peel peaches, discarding skins and pits.  Cut peaches in half (or a little smaller if you are using narrow mouth jars) and place them in your jars with syrup. Fill jars with peaches up to the neck, and add more syrup up to the neck also.  

Clean off rims with paper towel and top with ring and new lid (no need to boil lid).  In a large pot with a grate on the bottom (jars should not touch the bottom of the pot-see canned tomato post for picture), place jars filled with peaches. Fill pot with water up to necks of jars, cover with lid.  Turn on stove and wait until water is at a small rolling boil.  Let peaches process (small rolling boil) for 30 minutes.  

After 30 minutes, turn off stove and carefully take out jars. Let sit for 24 hours, and check lids to make sure they have sealed (the lids should not spring back when tapped). Write date on lids and store in a cool, dry place.  They last a couple years, but we like to eat them in the first year because they stay firm. 

Woot woot! Can you see how excited I am about this ^^^ I hope you enjoy these jars full of heaven. Let me know if you have any questions.