Thursday, July 29, 2010

Plum delicious!

The ranch has thousands of plum thickets on it and most years when we don't have a late freeze, they produce wild plums. In the summer of 2005 when James and I lived out there, I went around and picked them and made jam for the first time. It's so much fun and the jam is so good on just about anything!
The past two years they haven't produced so we have not had jam in quite a while. I was so excited back in late spring when I saw lots of little green plums on all the bushes, I knew I'd get to make jam this year!! James and I went picking the other night so I could have a ton of plums to make into jam!

Here are a few pics of how it's's a labor of love! :)

I start off by washing them, aren't they pretty?

Then I boil them in water.

When they're done, they float to the top!

Then I take this handy dandy little tool called a chinoi (pronounced "shinwa") and mash the plums in it and the pulp and juice comes out the bottom.

Once you have a ton of juice and pulp, you add pectin and sugar, boil and then pour into sterilized jelly jars and tada, plum jam!!

I only got the pulp and juice part done yesterday and I'm freezing it in ziplock baggies so I can make the jam a little later...why do it all at once, right?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A favorite place

One of my very favorite places to go is Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri. I've talked about it before on my blog and here I go again! :) It's a BEAUTIFUL place to go to stay in cabins and play on the lake and it is a tradition to go every summer with the Austin family.
It was extra special this year because James and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary here, this is also where James proposed to me 9 years ago!
We also got to go to K-Kountry, one of the Kanukuk kamps, to pick up our nieces, Faith and Adelynn. They had been at camp for two weeks, so they were very excited to see family! It was a great time and we are already looking forward to next year. (It takes a year to recover from that 10 hour car ride)!! :)
Here are a TON of pictures...

One of the biggest highlights of the trip was our stop in Fayettville to see precious Katie. We were college roomies at Baylor and have been friends since our freshman year there. This girl is amazing and I am so thankful for her friendship! This year was extra special because we got to meet the newest member of the Rowe family, Colson!

Holding baby Colson! Notice this what it will be like when I have two??

What a blessing!

And here are our boys!!
Thank you Katie for two wonderful hours at your house!

Arriving at Big Cedar

This is the spot where James proposed to me 9 years ago!

Parker and his Uncle Luke waiting while we register

That evening we rented a boat, here are Ann and Katherine in the front.

Fun times!

Check out that wind blown hair, so cute!

Tired boy!

This is Parker on the boat last year, amazing what a difference a year makes!

Jim was our fearless boat driver! :)

Here I am doing one of my all time favorite things, slalom skiing!!

Here's Luke tearing it up behind the boat! He and James are excellent skiers and so fun to watch!

Katherine and "Bubba"

Meredith holding down the fort! :)

What a great evening we had on the lake!
Parker is always happy on the boat, just like his mommy! :)

Sunday was family time at the pool until it was time to go to Kanukuk to pick up Faith and Adelynn.

Parker and Blake had lots of fun in the kiddie pool.

On Sunday evening, we drove into Branson to pick up Faith and Adelynn from Kanukuk. They were at K Kountry and it was so much fun to see what all they had been doing for two weeks! I can't even begin to describe to you how hot and humid it was. The heat index was 105 and we started sweating through our clothes the second we got out of the car!

Walking down through camp. The cabins are the big red barns you see.

This pic is priceless...Faith and Adelynn came running up to us with big hugs and big news that they both accepted Christ at camp! Many tears followed!!

Sweet girls!

My hot baby...this is right before a major melt down. He looks so innocent here, like he couldn't be capable of such crying and screaming! :)

Adelynn showing off her cabin.

Once we got to camp, the campers got to show off their specialty sport. F and A both did gymnastics. Faith is the one on the right in turquoise.

Have I mentioned how HOT it was?? Can you see my baby's sweaty hair?? Oh, and there is no air conditioning at camp, fans only!

Here is Parker wanting to show off his skills.

So Faith introduces us to her camp friend, Halle. I had Halle when she was in kindergarten when I taught in Highland Park, small world!! I actually saw four former students at camp!

The next day we had more lake time! Sweet Meredith hanging out on the tube with Blake. He just wasn't too sure about actually getting in the water.

Adelynn learned to ski last summer and we got Faith up this summer! We now have two more skiers in the fam!

We found a great cliff to jump off of, this is James thinking he can fly! :)

Katherine got nicknamed "aqua woman" because she wore her green goggles at all times and swam like a fish. This is a child who didn't care for the water that much last summer!

My big man coming out of the lake. Parker gets in and out of that lake like he's been doing it forever, so thankful!!

Our last evening there was our anniversary. James took me out to a nice restaurant there that overlooked the lake, it was perfect and so much fun to eat out just the two of us!

Faith kept Parker very entertained while we loaded up!
He just lights up with Faith! :)

Time to say goodbye. We were on the road by 8:30 that morning to tackle the LONG drive back home. See you next year Big Cedar!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dallas trip

Last Tuesday Parker and I flew to Dallas to spend the week with my family. As usual, we had a blast and were busy, busy! Of course, I got some shopping in, a pedicure, we went to a splash park, went to a Ranger game, tried on bridesmaid dresses for my cousin's wedding and got to visit all Parker's great-grand parents! Needless to say when we got back to Amarillo on Sunday night, we were both exhausted from all of our fun! Thanks mom and dad for making our time there so special and fun, we can't wait to do it again! I think it's become a tradition to go in July every summer! :)

Thursday morning I met up with my college roomate, Ashley, and her girls. We had so much fun catching up and watching our kids play! We hadn't seen each other in a year!

Sweet Rachel

Here is Anna posing in the slide!

Parker had fun watching the girls come down the slide.

Ryan is a Dallas fire fighter and he got some new fire boots for his graduation from fire academy present. Here is Lindsey modeling them. Somehow they just don't go with the dress girl!

And the Leah wanted to try them on.

Parker did not want to try them on! :)

Friday night we had tickets to go the Ranger game but it was pouring down rain at game time. We ordered pizza and hung out until the rain stopped. The game finally started at 9:30 and you can bet that we were there!! We had awesome seats because my sister in law, Carrie's, best friend and roomate from Baylor is Nolan Ryan's personal assistant, awesome job!!!!

We were also entertained by Parker and Leah while waiting to go to the game. Leah LOVES to give hugs and kisses to Parker.

Poor Parker. That girls loves her cousin!

Ok mom, rescue me from her!

Then Grandad got in the floor and quickly became a jungle gym!

And to further pass the time, Ryan and Lindsey decided to see what a dog shock collar feels like. Notice Lindsey has it up to her neck and Ryan has the control...whatever floats your boat! :)
FINALLY at the game and it's still raining but our seats were right under a balcony so we were dry!

Cute Ryan and Carrie

Josh Hamilton in action.

And that would be the back of Nolan Ryan's head. I would have paid some serious money to get a pic with him!! He was so close, yet so far away! He was on the 1st row and we were on the 28th row, bummer.

Saturday was a busy day! We started off getting to go to Ruthie Davis's baby shower! Ruthie and I grew up together and I was so excited to find out I was in town the same weekend as her shower. It was fun to see some old high school friends!

While we were there, this darling little girl came up to us and started talking to and loving on Parker. He wasn't too sure about all of that! :) The girls are already lining up, yikes!!

After the shower, we met Kristen, my cousin, at several bridal shops to try on bridesmaid dresses for her December 5th wedding. This is the style that was chosen, it will be in a deep purple color. My dress obviously doesn't fit in this pic and the lighting was awful, we just tried on what sizes they had available!

Sunday rolled around and Grandad entertained while mommy packed for the airport.
Who knew baskets could be so fun!

Excited to go home and see daddy!