Apple Stackers

27 Oct

My kids favorite snack has been the wonderful Apple Stacker.  Someday I will have an original idea but until that day… I am once again stealing wonderful ideas from Ree Drumond.  I have the Pioneer Woman show set to record on our DVR and can breeze through her show without commercials in search of foods my family will gladly consume. This was a hit from the start.  For your viewing pleasure I have set the sequence of the pictures in order from right to left. (I have no idea to fix this, my great apologies).

If you have an apple corer then go ahead with her recipe over here but we do not own such a device so I simply cut to the sides of the core to save time (since I am usually scrambling to make these at 7:42- Sophie and Jared walk out the door to catch the bus at 7:47). Soooooooo, slice the apple, spread with peanut butter, sprinkle with granola and add a pinch of cinnamon sugar.  Yes yes yes it tastes fine without the cinnamon sugar but this is seriously the best part. You only need a tiny amount and it makes the whole snack taste like an out of this world dessert. And it keeps the kids coming back for more of this healthy fall snack.

Next is the most fun part (besides eating it of course): re-assemble your apple. It looks cool because the apple fits right back together. When I send this to school I usually wrap it up in aluminum foil to keep all the moving parts together.

Maybe you can pass these out to the trick-or-treaters on Tuesday. Just kidding you really shouldn’t… not unless you enjoy having your house egged or toilet papered. Make these for your loved ones and pass out the milky ways, suckers and nerds on Tuesday.

Apple Stackers have proven to help ace spelling tests as well!

Baby Food Pouches

22 May


I love the baby food pouches. And have found  way to make my own for a fraction of the price.


They are wonderful because babies are good at sucking.  They suck at sleeping through the night (haha, get it) and they also suck since they nurse or take milk from a bottle.  Haven has been eating solids for almost a month now and she is pretty good at holding on to the pouches and sucking the fruits and veggies out at her leisure.

Unfortunately these pouches are pretty spendy, especially since they contain about 3 ounces and cost over $1 each.

When Hudson was a baby we used a combination of store-bought pouches, food put in icetrays as well as pouches you can fill up on the spot.  These are all okay options but the icetray food was a pain to defrost (microwave etc) and the pouches you fill up on the spot were a challenge too since many times we didn’t have time to fill with the appropriate baby food.  Who has freshly made sweet potaotes constantly laying around.  Yeah, me neither.

Fortunately, fourth kids the charm and we have found the PERFECT baby feeding pouch option!  Hooray.  Infantino pouches to the rescue.  I spent an hour or so making pouches about a month ago and still have plenty waiting for Haven’s dining pleasure in the future.

I bought 4 organic mangoes and pureed them in my blender.  The 4 mangoes made 15 pouches.  So each pouch cost me less than 27 cents.  And I know they are safe, and homemade and the pouch is filled with mango and nothing else.

I made these while Haven was asleep (she is cute even through the monitor):

IMG_5004I have also made pouches filled with sweet potatoes, avocado and pear.  They are very easy to thaw.  I either put them in a bowl of warm water or take a few out in the morning for her daily meals.

I have a drawer in the freezer filled with these awesome pouches:


Lessons from the Deer Stand.

27 Nov

I’m sure countless devotionals and numerous essays have been written by Christian

hunters – drawing parallels between hunting and the Christian life, or sharing deep

insights learned while sitting in the stillness of the deer stand. I’m not going for

originality here – but I figure – since I just shot the first deer of my life, perhaps a

little reflection is in order. I’ll share two things.

First, I can’t control everything, not least of which are wild animals and God’s good

creation. I mean, seriously, I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to know I was

doing a lot of things right: Arriving at the stand well before sunrise. Choosing a

location with good deer traffic and lots of activity on the trail cams. Sitting silently

and listening intently for the sound of a stick popping in the woods. I can do all that,

and yet, I can’t make a deer walk out of the woods. I can’t make it choose the trail in

front of me instead of the one just outside of my line of sight. I can’t make that buck

just curious enough to wander beyond the willows and award me a clean shot.

I just can’t control everything. And it’s good. God made wild animals wild and he

granted a certain amount of freedom and unpredictability to his creation, so that we

humans wouldn’t get any illusions about being gods. That’s a good reminder.

But what can I control? Hunting these last three years, and only just now getting my

first deer in the final week of the season, I’ve learned to take ownership of two

things: My effort and my attitude.

I can’t control the deer, but I can control my own effort. Rather than giving up and

tossing the guns in the locker for another year, I can keep trying – whether wading

into the cold before daybreak or sitting silently through the sunset, I can at least find

assurance in the fact that I was making the proper effort. I was doing what I could



And the second thing I can control is my attitude. Despite countless walks back to

the truck empty handed, repeated conversations with the refrain, “Nothing yet,” and

several sad stares from my kids who wanted so desperately to see a deer, I could

still choose joy. It was always a good hunt. The snowshoe hair playing beneath the

tree stand was an awesome gift. The vibrant and varied colors on the horizon at the

day’s bookends were always a blessing, and the Super Moon staring at me from

behind the barren aspens was an enormous reward. It was always a good hunt.

And when I did finally get my deer, it was a great hunt. Thank you, Lord.


17 Nov

We headed to Sunday School and church on Sunday morning.  After church we had lunch and Jared and the girls headed to hockey practice.  He is coaching them this year since the baby makes his/her arrival in a few weeks.

Hudson and I took an hour nap and then I had to decide what to do.  Should we just hang around the house get things organized and cleaned up?  Should I head to an enclosed stand with Hudson?  Should I head out to an open stand? Should we head to the field north of town.  We are VERY fortunate to have so many generous friends that have opened up their hunting land to us.  But it does make it a challenge when deciding where to go.

I decided to try a new spot.  One of my girlfriends had offered at church that morning that I could head out to her field.  Since Jared would be getting home with the girls, I told him to meet me at their house, in case I saw a doe to shoot.  Since her two kids had each been successful in that field and my 37 week body was getting a bit tired of this whole head out into the woods every waking moment thing- I decided to head out with Hudson to hopefully get this taken care of.  It was a beautiful, sunny, 58 degree afternoon and we arrived at her house at 3pm.  She offered to play with Hudson in their house and on their playground while her husband led me and my 30-06 to the deer stand a few minutes walk from their house.  As we neared the stand we noticed there were already 4 deer in the field!  We headed up into the stand and the deer left the field.  I thought to myself, darn it, I guess this isn’t going to happen- I thought this because whenever I had seen deer previously, they vanished into the woods to never return.  He reassured me that they would be back within a half hour.  Okay, if you say so.

Sure enough in about ten minutes, one fawn then another came out of the woods followed my their mom.  Then another four deer leapt and bounded playfully into the sunshine.

They were all about 150 yards away, hugging the edge of the field.  He asked me if I left comfortable with this shot.  Uh, no. I have no idea if I can actually do this!  This is not a “comfortable” situation for me!  But yes, this was going to be it- that was going to be the time where I took my first shot.

The deer were heading toward our right and further away.  It had to be now.  I raised up my gun and realized that I hadn’t been breathing.  He reminded me that I should probably breathe a bit before this shot.  Oh yeah, right.  Breathe.  Yes breathe.  I had the barrel of the gun resting on his coat and the ledge of the stand.  Which deer to take?  All the deer had passed into the shadows except for one that was still in the sun.  There seemed to be a glowing spotlight on the deer that was the one for me.  This was it.  I aimed the crosshairs of the scope on this unsuspecting animal.  It was facing the the left, perfectly horizontal to me.  I took a deep breathe, got brave, aimed right behind it’s front left leg and fired the shot.  The animal immediately dropped to the ground like a ton of bricks.  The deer stand was smoky and smelled like fireworks.  I kept staring a the deer, it was dead… right???  Nice shot he said!  “Way to go” and gave me a high five.  I had done it!  It was over.

This was my first successful hunt.  All that waiting and time and patience and I had a deer.

We headed across the field 120 yards to my deer.  Yes, my deer.  I had shot it straight through the lungs and nicked it’s heart.  He noticed that the deer was not actually a doe but a button buck.

Version 2

Hudson and the rest of our families headed out on foot and on the four-wheeler to see what had transpired since they had heard the shot.


They were almost as happy as I felt.  It was very fun to be able to share this event with so many people who were excited for me.

Now I can sleep in, put away my hunting boots and wash my hunting clothes.

Although it would have been fun if my first deer was a monster buck that I shot after getting to an open deer stand at 5am, with temperatures in the teens. It would have been a better story if I was stalking this 12 point buck through the brambles etc, but to be perfectly honest- I am completely happy I had a successful hunt and got a deer.  We will have meat in the freezer and I made it through hunting without inducing labor =)  What a great way to start off my years of hunting challenges.

Thanks everyone for pulling for me.  Now it is Jared’s turn to get his buck.  Since my buck was just a button buck we had to use his doe tag. Thanks Jared for letting me use it.  I hope you get to tell your story here soon.

One Hunting Week Down

12 Nov

Although I was hoping to have some good and tangible proof of our hunting outings but this is not the case yet.  Neither Jared or I have seen a buck but I have seen a few does that would have been a difficult shot.  Since Jared has the doe tag I can shoot a doe if we are in the same hunting party.

We have definitely put our time into this hunting week.  It is hard to take a morning or evening off since, you never know when that deer will be walking right past your deer stand or in good range of the spot you picked on the edge of the field.

I have had some shoulda, woulda, coulda moments over the past week but ultimately, I want my first kill to be a good one.  I am learning this whole hunting thing slowly but surely.

On to another thought that I have been thinking through this week…

Here is the deal:


Why? Here is Why:

Every mom should hunt because you get to head out into nature, real- true outside beauty and sit.

As a mom (yes dads too- but work with me) there are always 37 things you should be doing.  You should be doing the laundry, preparing the next meal, cleaning the house, cleaning the car, shopping for groceries so you have some food when you get around to preparing the next meal, washing the dishes, sweeping, checking homework- when is this feather project due again Sophie?…you should be reading to the kids and giving them a bath and taking them to hockey practice and selling those dang raffle tickets so you can afford hockey and you should be checking to see if the chickens have water and making sure the kids feel loved and that the laundry is finally switched from the washer to the dryer after forgetting about it overnight.

So yes- there are a lot of things we SHOULD be doing.  A mother will NEVER ever say, I am going to sit in this house for the next three hours and not do anything.  No. That would be weird and also quite impossible.  BUT when you go hunting- your JOB is to sit still, be quiet and hunt.  If you are sitting in a deer stand your JOB at that time is to scan the perimeter, pay attention, and hang out.  When, as a mother, are you allowed to do that??? The answer is never.

Hunting is exciting, since you never know when a deer will walk out of the woods and step in front of that huge balsam tree that looks like an old man.

I have done more thinking in the past week than ever before and yes thinking and not being entertained or running around can be challenging but it is good for me.  It would be good for everyone to sit in a deer stand for a couple weeks each year.  Be still and quiet.  I love hunting and although- you could call it sitting around outside with a hunting rifle, since we have never shot a deer, I still love it.  Here is to one more week of beautiful northern MN wilderness hunting.  Although we hope we have some venison and a good story to tell- all will not be lost if things don’t go our way.  Good luck to you hunters, enjoy the great outdoors.

A week of hunting pics-

This was hunting opener sunrise, as well as my hunting teacher’s, brother’s deer:

Hudson fell asleep after an evening hunt with Jared:


I love morning hunting. The dark and cold woods gives life to a sunrise and then daybreak:


Aleah helping me out after school:

My friend missed a shot in the morning while we were hunting together and then she got this one later the same afternoon.  Since we don’t have a mall or trampoline park in town, I brought the kids to see the deer after school on Friday.  See!  We do have fun up here in the north!

This morning:

The two headed hunting monster!


Hunting Season 2016

3 Nov

Jared and I are newby hunters.  Jared has two hunting seasons under his belt while last year was my first.  We’ve only been allowed to shoot bucks these last few seasons; which means even though you will see approximately 10,384 does while sitting up in your deer stand, you must wait out your days in the woods while hoping a buck will meander your way.

This year is different and more favorable since we have some good buck leads and especially since Jared won a doe tag in the lottery.  Yes, I suppose we are gamblers up here.  Folks around here call a doe tag “meat insurance.”  We will have failed greatly if we don’t end up with a deer for our freezer.

How on earth as a 30 year old did I get the “I want to go hunting” itch?

Yes, great question.  I am a part of a small group of lovely ladies who do awesome activities such as camping, study the bible, venting , cliff jumping, eating good food and yes- we had an afternoon after church last year where a few ladies brought their hunting rifles to site (and their handguns as well).  I was a bit perplexed that we were doing this but went along since, why not?

They got out the sawhorse and targets and taught me some essential safety lessons.  My friend fired off a shot, I couldn’t believe how loud it was!  Next it was my turn- was I really going to shoot this gun?  Just breathe.  I fired off one shot, then the next.  What an adrenaline rush.  To my surprise I realized that I could not only hit the target but pretty close to the middle of the target.  One reason I had never wanted to hunt before (let alone that my family didn’t hunt) was that I assumed if I even went hunting I would shoot off the leg of a poor deer that would be forced to hobble around the woods for the rest of its poor miserable life.  In seeing that I might be able to hit and kill the deer I got a bit more excited about this whole hunting business.

I actually went home from that time with my friends and immediately began my online hunters safety course.  People born after 1980 must all take this course.

In Jared and my combined three years of hunting we have come out empty handed.  Hunting season begins again this Saturday morning at dawn.  I get to go out opening morning while Jared is taking the afternoon/evening hunt.

Our hunting clothes have been washed in scent-off, and are currently drying the the outdoor breeze.  What a beautiful sight


Wish us luck, hunting season 2016- here we come.


Trout Lake Camp

31 Oct

In the middle of October, Jared and I along with several other youth leaders headed out with a bunch of senior high schoolers to Trout Lake Camp.  Aleah, Sophie and Hudson went to their friend’s house of choice while we left for the weekend.

Weekend retreats are an amazing way to connect and form relationships in ways that would not happen throughout the course of an entire year.  Sleep deprivation, slime fights and football tournaments all have a way of bonding.

Here are some pictures of the slime fight:

After the slime fight, everyone took a plunge in the lake to de-slime themselves.  We have a hearty youth group since many kids took multiple dives into the freezing cold October waters:


The zipline was another bonding experience- many had to overcome their fear of heights to enjoy this adventure:

I do believe we have been the champions for three years in a row now.  Thankfully most of the football team comes on this retreat =)

Love these kids and am thankful we get to escape to this place a few times each year



Sad Turn for the Chickens

22 Oct

For a few days a chicken here and a chicken there were disappearing.  Sometimes they go rogue and try and live in the woods but they eventually come back to roost in the coop.  We would count the chickens at night and slowly but surely their numbers were dropping.

There are many possibilities as to what could eat the chickens up here in the northland.  We lost a chicken to an osprey a few years ago and some other predators include: coyote, wolf, owl, eagle, weasel, pine martin, fox etc.  Since we didn’t know what was eating the chickens and the precautions against an eagle and a weasel are quite different- Jared set up the trail cam to see what was eating our poor ladies.

Unfortunately we had to go out of town for the weekend, so we had to hope our ladies could survive long enough for us to get back home.

When we returned we had a couple fewer chickens but some more answers.  Three answers to be exact.  A mother raccoon and her two babies.  Here are some pictures of the sad turn of events.

This hen was ironically named Racoony because of her black and white plumage, and here is a picture of her happily walking around outside the coop.


Next up is a picture of Racoony in the mouth of a Raccoon.


Four chickens now rule our land instead of 14.  RIP ladies, we are sorry you aren’t here anymore and even more sad our egg production is down to one or two eggs a day.



Fishing with the Fam

21 May

Gotta love Minnesota springs.  When it stops snowing and sleeting and the weather stops freaking out every two seconds- you get out and soak up the sun.

We spend pretty much every waking second outside because we know that lovely starving mosquito season is right around the corner.  The season where every mosquito arrives and needs to feast off your flesh and you consider walking around in a bug net or perhaps becoming a hermit for just a tiny while.

So, yes- we went fishing.  I love lakes and I love boats.  I grew up on a lake and never fully appreciated it until I moved off a lake.  Lake are wonderful.  I am thankful we live in the land of 10,000 of them and all the city folks head up to our neck of the woods to spend their vacation and their hard earned money.  How blessed are we that we get to live where people vacation…yeah, yeah, yeah they don’t deal with the winters…

Anyways, here are some pics of our latest Lake Vermilion adventure-

Hope you have some lakes near you, head out soon before the bugs find you!

Hudson had his water wing lifejacket on underneath his coat, making it look like he had huge muscles- so naturally we all had to show off our giant muscles too!

Backcountry Snowboarding

17 Apr

I don’t think I will ever be able to go to a normal ski resort after this adventure.


Winter Park Resort (the runs in the background) costs $144 a day per person.  Our day cost a half a tank of gas for the snowmobile and I suppose we had to have an adventurous spirit.

We did not see one other snowboarder or skier the whole day, unlike the crowded lines and packed out lunch rooms of the resorts.

Yes the perks where pretty endless.

The wonderful Dan and Maria (Jared’s sister) took us out for this special trip.  Dan keeps his snowmobile up in the mountains for an easy getaway.

After the two hour drive into the mountains Dan and Jared picked up the snowmobile while Maria and I got some last minutes snacks- cheese, a giant pre-made sandwich and some spring rolls.  All the essentials.

As we were heading up the mountain in a big blue truck with the snowmobile strapped in back, it was snowing quite steadily and the switchbacks kept getting more steep and more narrow- I began to think…what the heck are we getting ourselves into?  Are we good enough to be heading out to do this sort of thing?  Do we have a will?  Don’t all great days start with these sorts of questions?  (maybe not)

Well, this great day started with these thoughts.

We finally reached the top and reversed the truck into a large snowbank and then Dan backed the snowmobile out of the truck and onto the snowbank- flawless.

This is us strapping on all our snowgear and preparing to head up the mountain- all the while giant flakes continued to surround us.


I would have to say that the most physically demanding and most scary part was hanging onto the snowmobile as we flew up the mountain.  Dan was mostly the driver so he would hang on to the side handle bars while the passenger would cling to that bar in between.  Both people would straddle the snowmobile with some big knee bend.  The right hand would be clutching your snowboard.  ALL THIS WHILE SMOKING IT UP A GIANT MOUNTAINSIDE!  Yes, i thought it was slightly terrifying as well.  Since there was lots of powder and the steepness of the route- Dan would yell for us to lean out or lean in so that we would not tip over.  And when we got to the top we would have to jump off (don’t worry he slowed down) and he would continue down the slope to pick up the next person.

I think my left hang was bruised by the end of the day from how hard I was gripping that bar!  So worth it though.

I am so glad we had our own personal guide to take us on this great adventure.  We will never forget this day.